In this article, we tested the vulnerability hypothesis of the behavioral approach system (BAS) hypersensitivity model of bipolar disorders. We examined whether self-reported BAS sensitivity predicts lifetime bipolar spectrum diagnoses as well as symptoms and personality characteristics associated with bipolar disorder using a retrospective and concurrent behavioral high-risk design. Participants with high (HBAS; n=28) or moderate (MBAS; n=24) BAS sensitivity were selected and given a lifetime psychiatric diagnostic interview and self-report measures of proneness to bipolar symptoms, current symptoms, and personality characteristics relevant to bipolarity. HBAS participants were significantly and substantially more likely to have a lifetime bipolar spectrum disorder diagnosis than were MBAS participants, but did not differ from MBAS participants in their likelihood of a unipolar depression diagnosis. Also, the HBAS group exhibited higher impulsivity and proneness to hypomanic symptoms than the MBAS group, and BAS-reward responsiveness predicted hypomanic personality characteristics. Finally, high behavioral inhibition system (BIS) sensitivity was associated with proneness to and current depressive symptoms.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Acknowledgment The research reported in this article was supported by National Institute of Mental Health Grant MH 52617 to Lauren B. Alloy.
- Behavioral approach system
- Behavioral high-risk design
- Behavioral inhibition system
- Bipolar disorders