Prospective studies have shown that the course of bipolar disorder (BD) is characterized by the persistence of symptoms, predominantly depression, along most of the time. However, to our knowledge, no studies in Latin America have investigated it.
To replicate international studies using a Brazilian sample to prospectively analyze treatment outcomes in the first year and to determine potential chronicity factors.
We followed up 102 patients with BD for 12 months and evaluated the number of months with affective episodes and the intensity of manic and depressive symptoms using the Young Mania Rating Scale (YMRS) and the Hamilton Depression Scale (HAM-D17). Sociodemographic and retrospective clinical data were examined to determine possible predictors of outcome.
Almost 50% of the patients had symptoms about half of the time, and there was a predominance of depressive episodes. Disease duration and number of depressive episodes were predictors of chronicity. Depressive polarity of the first episode and a higher number of depressive episodes predicted the occurrence of new depressive episodes.
In general, BD outcome seems to be poor in the first year of monitoring, despite adequate treatment. There is a predominance of depressive symptoms, and previous depressive episodes are a predictor of new depressive episodes and worse outcome.
Clinical progression; outcome assessment; depression; bipolar disorder