Background: Cyclothymic temperament (which includes mood lability) is common in bipolar II disorder (BP-II). Depressive mixed state (DMX), a major depressive episode (MDE) mixed with intra-episode hypomanic symptoms (3 or more, according to a recently validated definition), was found to be common in BP-II and not uncommon in major depressive disorder (MDD). The study aim was to find the impact of temperamental mood lability (TML) on DMX. Methods: Consecutive 148 BP-II and 117 MDD outpatients presenting for MDE treatment were interviewed by the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV as modified by Benazzi and Akiskal [J Affect Disord 2003;73:33–38] to reduce the false negative BP-II. Intra-MDE hypomanic symptoms were systematically assessed. Kraepelin, Angst, and Akiskal’s definitions of temperamental mood lability (i.e., frequent up and down fluctuations of mood between major mood episodes since young age) were followed. Results: DMX was present in 61.5%, TML in 52.8%. In the DMX sample, TML was present in 57.6%, and in the non-DMX sample TML was present in 45.0% (OR = 1.6, 95% CI = 1.0–2.7). In the DMX sample, independent predictors of DMX with TML were BP-II and young age at onset. Intra-MDE hypomanic symptoms, and MDE, melancholic and atypical symptoms were not significantly different between DMX patients with TML and DMX patients without TML, apart from more temperamental interpersonal sensitivity in DMX patients with TML (OR = 2.0, 95% CI = 1.0–3.8). Discussion: DMX patients with TML had a younger onset age, suggesting that TML may facilitate the onset of DMX or that it may be a precursor of DMX. The association of BP-II with DMX, TML, and interpersonal sensitivity can make the course of BP-II more unstable and its treatment more complex.

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