Early Maladaptive Schemas among patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


J Affect Disord, Volume 136, Issue 3, p.803-11 (2012)


Adult, Bipolar Disorder, Cognition, Emotions, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Young Adult


<p><b>BACKGROUND: </b>Bipolar disorder is associated with a variety of cognitive features that seem to play a role in affective symptoms. Schema theory may serve as a unifying theory that would explain many of these features. This study is an exploratory investigation of schema theory's Early Maladaptive Schemas (EMSs) among individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder.</p><p><b>METHODS: </b>A sample of 74 participants with bipolar disorder and 99 mixed clinical controls (46 with unipolar depression and 53 with anxiety disorders) completed the Young Schema Questionnaire and comparison measures. Associations were investigated using univariate and multivariate analyses. Mean scores were compared with previously established benchmarks.</p><p><b>RESULTS: </b>Participants with bipolar disorder demonstrate elevated scores on most EMSs, many at an intermediate position between nonclinical and mixed clinical control groups. When controlling for depression, participants with bipolar disorder exceed those with unipolar depression on Approval-Seeking/Recognition-Seeking and Entitlement/Grandiosity. Bipolar group membership is predicted by high scores on Approval-Seeking/Recognition-Seeking and low scores on Emotional Inhibition and Abandonment.</p><p><b>LIMITATIONS: </b>Women were overrepresented. Axis II traits were not assessed, nor were manic symptoms in the mixed clinical sample.</p><p><b>CONCLUSIONS: </b>Bipolar disorder is associated with a general activation of the EMSs. Approval-Seeking/Recognition-Seeking and Entitlement/Grandiosity seem to be particularly high, while Emotional Inhibition and Abandonment seem to be typically low. These EMS are highly consistent with characteristics of the bipolar spectrum. By demonstrating the activation of the EMSs, this study suggests that the EMS component of schema theory may be applied to bipolar disorder. Future research should explore how EMSs might interact with life events to trigger affective symptoms and, ultimately, the applicability of schema therapy to bipolar disorder.</p>

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