Bipolar disorder in Asia: Illness course and contributing factors.

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Bipolar disorder in Asia: Illness course and contributing factors.

Asian J Psychiatr. 2017 Oct;29:16-29

Authors: Subramanian K, Sarkar S, Kattimani S

BACKGROUND: Epidemiological studies analysing the course of Bipolar Disorder (BD) are relatively rare in the Asian context, contributing to the uncertainty regarding the prevalent course patterns and factors influencing such patterns. The current review identifies the regional characteristics of BD course patterns and the associated factors.
METHODS: A review of the existing literature was done using 'PubMed' and 'Cochrane' databases which yielded 145 studies including those from all 48 Asian countries. Relevant discussions from the Western literature were incorporated.
RESULTS: Regional and cross-national studies reveal a mania-predominant course in BD in Asian countries. Prolonged depressive episodes and comorbid anxiety disorders worsen the course of BD-II. Certain risk factors such as the young age of onset and greater episode frequency are useful predictors of bipolar diatheses. Substance use disorder comorbidity is more prevalent in males whereas depression and suicidal behaviours are more frequent in females with BD. Comorbid anxiety and personality disorders also encumber the illness course. Logistic reasons and ignorance of side-effects were specifically associated with poor adherence. An 'eveningness' chronotype and poor sleep quality were associated with frequent recurrences. Seasonal patterns vary among men and women, especially for depressive episodes.
LIMITATIONS: The effects of treatment and childhood BD course features were not discussed.
CONCLUSIONS: There are region-specific characteristics in bipolar illness course and factors influencing such course patterns compared to the rest of the World. Future research from Asia shall attempt to study the neurobiological underpinnings of such characteristics and plan appropriate strategies to address the same.

PMID: 29061417 [PubMed - in process]