Characteristics and long-term follow-up of patients hospitalized for mood disorders in the Phipps clinic, 1913-1940

Joseph H. Stephens, Paul R. McHugh

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From a sample of 2809 mood disorder patients hospitalized between 1913 and 1940, we selected for detailed study 914 patients with at least a 5 year follow-up and 103 patients who committed suicide within 5 years of discharge. Patients with clearly mood incongruent delusions or an onset associated with a physical illness were excluded, Based on the presence or absence of manic symptoms, this cohort of 1017 cases was divided into 297 bipolar and 945 unipolar patients. Bipolar patients had an earlier age of onset and admission and were more likely to be delusional and hallucinated. They also had more sudden onsets, more previous admissions, worse premorbid characteristics, and more problems with alcohol, but more patients were discharged as recovered. Unipolar patients were more often female and married, more likely to have made previous suicidal attempts, and more likely to have experienced a precipitating event. On a mean follow-up of 13.5 years, only 11% of the bipolar and 22% of the unipolar patients experienced no futher episodes of mania or depression. Of the bipolar group, 77% had to be rehospitalized, as did 56% of the unipolars. Only 2% of the sample had manic episodes with no lifetime depressions; this small group had the best outcome. One third of all the patients were rated unimproved on follow-up. Thirteen percent committed suicide, usually within 1 year of discharge. Bipolar patients had the worst out-come, with 43% rated unimproved. The sample was split by odd or even case number and one half was used to construct a prognostic scale significantly correlated with long-term outcome. It was cross-validated on the other half of the sample with little shrinkage. Patients with non-drug-treated affective disorders hospitalized half a century ago were found to have polyepisodic illnesses with a frequently chronic course.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages1
JournalJournal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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