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Depression and anxiety common during primary care of bipolar disorder

By jeremyc | May 1, 2014

A recent US study has found that anxiety and depression symptoms are common among bipolar disorder (BD) patients receiving primary care. However, only 25% of the people in this cohort study were referred for specialist mental health treatment.

The study was done by Joseph Cerimele of the University of Washington, Seattle and his Psychiatric Services colleagues.  They said, “Successful treatment of bipolar disorder in primary care may require additional clinical interventions aimed at either further improving the care delivered to patients in primary care or through more effective referrals to community mental health centers”

A total of 740 BD patients in primary care under the Washington State Mental Health Integration Program were assessed for this cohort. The patients were found to have moderately severe depression, with 58% of them reporting suicidal thoughts and 88% of them meeting the criteria for anxiety disorders, including social phobia and panic disorder. A total of 442 patients underwent PTSD screening, out of which 91% were found to have a greater risk of being diagnosed with the disorder.

The researchers noted, “Although this result was from a subsample, it supports our finding that many of the patients had moderate to severe comorbid anxiety symptoms, such as symptoms that can occur with PTSD.”

The researchers also found that only 26% of the people in the cohort received a referral, which they felt was due to a lack of community-based resources and patients indicating that they preferred their primary care practitioner’s treatment.

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