Characterization of affective lability across subgroups of psychosis spectrum disorders

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Background: Affective lability is elevated and associated with increased clinical burden in psychosis spectrum disorders. The extent to which the level, structure and dispersion of affective lability varies between the specific disorders included in the psychosis spectrum is however unclear. To have potential value as a treatment target, further characterization of affective lability in these populations is necessary. The main aim of our study was to investigate differences in the architecture of affective lability in different psychosis spectrum disorders, and if putative differences remained when we controlled for current symptom status. Methods: Affective lability was measured with The Affective Lability Scale Short Form (ALS-SF) in participants with schizophrenia (SZ, n = 76), bipolar I disorder (BD-I, n = 105), bipolar II disorder (BD-II, n = 68) and a mixed psychosis-affective group (MP, n = 48). Multiple analyses of covariance were conducted to compare the ALS-SF total and subdimension scores of the diagnostic groups, correcting for current psychotic, affective and anxiety symptoms, substance use and sex. Double generalized linear models were performed to compare the dispersion of affective lability in the different groups. Results: Overall group differences in affective lability remained significant after adjusting for covariates (p =.001). BD-II had higher affective lability compared to SZ and BD-I (p =.004), with no significant differences between SZ and BD-I. There were no significant differences in the contributions of ALS-SF dimensions to the total affective lability or in dispersion of affective lability between the groups. Conclusions: This study provides the construct of affective lability in psychosis spectrum disorders with more granular details that may have implications for research and clinical care. It demonstrates that despite overlap in core symptom profiles, BD-I is more similar to SZ than it is to BD-II concerning affective lability and the BD groups should consequently be studied apart. Further, affective lability appears to be characterized by fluctuations between depressive- and other affective states across different psychosis spectrum disorders, indicating that affective lability may be related to internalizing problems in these disorders. Finally, although the level varies between groups, affective lability is evenly spread and not driven by extremes across psychosis spectrum disorders and should be assessed irrespective of diagnosis.




Høegh, M. C., Melle, I., Aminoff, S. R., Haatveit, B., Olsen, S. H., Huflåtten, I. B., … Lagerberg, T. V. (2021). Characterization of affective lability across subgroups of psychosis spectrum disorders. International Journal of Bipolar Disorders, 9(1).

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