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Smoking tied to suicide risk in bipolar disorder

People with bipolar disorder who smoke appear to have a high risk of suicidal behaviour possibly because they are generally prone to impulsive acts.

Smoking tied to suicide risk in bipolar disorder

People with bipolar disorder who smoke appear to have a high risk of suicidal behaviour possibly because they are generally prone to impulsive acts.

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is marked by dramatic swings in mood, ranging from episodes of debilitating depression to periods of euphoric recklessness. Previous studies have found that bipolar patients who smoke have a higher suicide risk than their non-smoking counterparts, but the reasons have not been clear.

To look into the association of smoking and suicidal tendencies in those suffering from bipolar disorder, researchers identified 116 bipolar patients. The researchers used a standard questionnaire to gauge patients' impulsiveness -- such as how often they speak or act without thinking and how well they plan for the future.

Five of the 31 smokers in the study (16 percent) attempted suicide during the study period. By comparison, only 3 of 85 non-smokers (3.5 percent) attempted suicide during the study.

The new findings suggest that high levels of impulsivity -- one of the symptoms of bipolar disorder -- may draw some patients to both smoking and suicidal behaviour. The above findings add more evidence that smoking can be considered a clinical marker of higher suicide risk in bipolar patients.

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