Abstract

Bipolar II (BP-II) depression is often misdiagnosed as unipolar (UP) depression, resulting in suboptimal treatment. Tools for differentiating between these two types of depression are lacking. This study aimed to develop a simple, self-report screening instrument to help distinguish BP-II depression from UP depressive disorder. A prototype BP-II depression questionnaire (BPIIDQ-P) was constructed following a literature review, panel discussions and a field trial. Consecutively assessed patients with a diagnosis of depressive disorder or BP with depressive episodes completed the BPIIDQ-P at a psychiatric outpatient clinic in Hong Kong between October and December 2013. Data were analyzed using discriminant analysis and logistic regression. Of the 298 subjects recruited, 65 (21.8%) were males and 233 (78.2%) females. There were 112 (37.6%) subjects with BP depression [BP-I = 42 (14.1%), BP-II = 70 (23.5%)] and 182 (62.4%) with UP depression. Based on family history, age at onset, postpartum depression, episodic course, attacks of anxiety, hypersomnia, social phobia and agoraphobia, the 8-item BPIIDQ-8 was constructed. The BPIIDQ-8 differentiated subjects with BP-II from those with UP depression with a sensitivity/specificity of 0.75/0.63 for the whole sample and 0.77/0.72 for a female subgroup with a history of childbirth. The BPIIDQ-8 can differentiate BP-II from UP depression at the secondary care level with satisfactory to good reliability and validity. It has good potential as a screening tool for BP-II depression in primary care settings. Recall bias, the relatively small sample size, and the high proportion of females in the BP-II sample limit the generalization of the results.

Keywords

depression, suicide, hypersomnia, psychometrics, diagnostic medicine, Bipolar disorder

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