Bipolar Disorder and Anxiety May Be Linked

Medically Reviewed

Bipolar disorder typically is characterized by alternating periods of depression and mania, but patients often experience anxiety, too.

In fact, a study published online May 2016 in Molecular Biology found that people who experience an episode of mania are as likely to later develop anxiety as they are depression.

Researchers used a standardized interview to screen approximately 34,650 adults for mania, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse at the beginning of the study, and then again three years later.

They used statistical calculations to estimate how likely it would be for patients who had experienced one disorder to develop another within a year of the second interview.

Having had an episode of mania before the first interview significantly increased the risk of developing depression or anxiety before the second interview.

The increased risk was about the same for depression as it was for anxiety. This held true even after researchers took into account factors that could raise a person’s risk of anxiety or depression, such as age, sex, or having a history of psychiatric disorders.

Previous research has shown that anxiety symptoms often precede depression. This study highlights the links between mania and anxiety as well.

Bottom line

If you have bipolar disorder, it’s important to talk with your doctor if you begin to experience symptoms of anxiety.