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BACKGROUND: Mood instability and sleep disturbance are common symptoms in people with mental illness. Both features are clinically important and associated with poorer illness trajectories. We compared clinical outcomes in people presenting to secondary mental health care with mood instability and/or sleep disturbance with outcomes in people without either mood instability or sleep disturbance. METHODS: Data were from electronic health records of 31,391 patients ages 16-65 years presenting to secondary mental health services between 2008 and 2016. Mood instability and sleep disturbance were identified using natural language processing. Prevalence of mood instability and sleep disturbance were estimated at baseline. Incidence rate ratios were estimates for clinical outcomes including psychiatric diagnoses, prescribed medication, and hospitalization within 2-years of presentation in persons with mood instability and/or sleep disturbance compared to individuals without either symptom. RESULTS: Mood instability was present in 9.58%, and sleep disturbance in 26.26% of patients within 1-month of presenting to secondary mental health services. Compared with individuals without either symptom, those with mood instability and sleep disturbance showed significantly increased incidence of prescription of any psychotropic medication (incidence rate ratios [IRR] = 7.04, 95% confidence intervals [CI] 6.53-7.59), and hospitalization (IRR = 5.32, 95% CI 5.32, 4.67-6.07) within 2-years of presentation. Incidence rates of most clinical outcomes were considerably increased among persons with both mood instability and sleep disturbance, relative to persons with only one symptom. CONCLUSIONS: Mood instability and sleep disturbance are present in a wide range of mental disorders, beyond those in which they are conventionally considered to be symptoms. They are associated with poor outcomes, particularly when they occur together. The poor prognosis associated with mood instability and sleep disorder may be, in part, because they are often treated as secondary symptoms. Mood instability and sleep disturbance need better recognition as clinical targets for treatment in their own right.

Original publication

DOI

10.1192/j.eurpsy.2020.39

Type

Journal article

Journal

Eur Psychiatry

Publication Date

27/04/2020

Volume

63

Keywords

Electronic health records, epidemiology, mood, psychiatry, sleep, Adolescent, Adult, Affect, Affective Symptoms, Aged, Depression, Female, Humans, Incidence, Male, Mental Health, Middle Aged, Patients, Severity of Illness Index, Sleep Wake Disorders, Young Adult