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Alcohol could worsen mood swings, functioning of people with bipolar disorder: Study

The researchers from the University of Michigan, US, wanted to understand the long-term effects of consuming alcohol on the mood and functioning of adults having bipolar disorder.
Last Updated : 08 June 2024, 09:31 IST
Last Updated : 08 June 2024, 09:31 IST

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New Delhi: Drinking alcohol could worsen one's symptoms of bipolar disorder by destabilising mood and affecting efficiency at work, and it is not the other way round that is consuming alcohol because of mood swings, new research has found.

The mental condition is marked by unusual shifts in emotions, energy and activity levels, and can sometimes be accompanied by hallucinations and delusions.

The researchers, including those from the University of Michigan, US, wanted to understand the long-term effects of consuming alcohol on the mood and functioning of adults having bipolar disorder. The findings are published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Network Open.

For the study, the researchers included 584 adults diagnosed with the mood disorder, who had been part of the larger ongoing US-based Prechter Longitudinal Study of Bipolar Disorder (PLS-BD) for at least five years. Data for analysis was collected over a follow-up period of 5-16 years.

The participants' alcohol habits were assessed using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test, a WHO-approved questionnaire to screen patients for problematic and harmful alcohol consumption.

Other well-known, standardised questionnaires were used for gauging the patients' depression, mania or hypomania, anxiety, and functioning.

The researchers found that consuming alcohol more than one's typical levels led to worse depressive and manic or hypomanic moods, along with an affected performance at work.

"A person reporting alcohol use above their own mean amount tended to experience more depressive symptoms at the next time point, but increased depressive symptoms were not associated with greater subsequent alcohol use," the authors wrote.

'Regarding mania or hypomania, alcohol use exceeding one's own mean amount was associated with an increase in manic or hypomanic symptoms at the next time point, but not vice versa,' they wrote.

Medication was also a factor, as the researchers found that harmful levels of alcohol consumption impacted the patients not taking antipsychotic and antidepressant medications to a greater extent, compared to those taking these medications.

"Taken together, these results highlight the role that alcohol use may play in ongoing mood instability and functional impairment in bipolar disorder," the authors wrote.

Therefore, alcohol habits of patients with bipolar disorder need to be monitored during treatment, they said.

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Published 08 June 2024, 09:31 IST

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