Temperament and character traits may determine differences in clinical presentations and outcome of bipolar disorder. We compared personality traits in bipolar patients and healthy individuals using the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI) and sought to verify whether comorbidity with alcoholism or anxiety disorders is associated with specific personality traits. Seventy-three DSM-IV bipolar patients were compared to 63 healthy individuals using the TCI. In a second step, the bipolar sample was subgrouped according to the presence of psychiatric comorbidity (alcoholism, n = 10; anxiety disorders; n = 23; alcoholism plus anxiety disorders, n = 21; no comorbidity, n = 19). Bipolar patients scored statistically higher than the healthy individuals on novelty seeking, harm avoidance and self-transcendence and lower on self-directedness and cooperativeness. Bipolar patients with only comorbid alcoholism scored statistically lower than bipolar patients without any comorbidity on persistence. Bipolar patients with only comorbid anxiety disorders scored statistically higher on harm avoidance and lower on self-directedness than bipolar patients without any comorbidity. Limitations of this study include the cross-sectional design and the small sample size, specifically in the analysis of the subgroups. However, our results suggest that bipolar patients exhibit a different personality structure than healthy individuals and that presence of psychiatric comorbidity in bipolar disorder is associated with specific personality traits. These findings suggest that personality, at least to some extent, mediates the comorbidity phenomena in bipolar disorder.
- Anxiety disorders
- Bipolar disorder