Vol. 3, No. 4, 1997 Page 6


A new study by Jiri Modestin and colleagues hints that some forms of affective disorder may be risk factors for criminal behavior. Modestin et al. studied 261 male patients who had been hospitalized at least once at a psychiatric facility. All were diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder or with major, minor, or intermittent depressive disorder.

The researchers report that "the patients with affective disorders were more frequently criminally registered than carefully matched non- patients," and that "with the exceptions of sexual offenses and violations of traffic law, they more often committed crimes of all types." Forty-two percent of patients with affective disorders had criminal records, compared to only 31 percent of non-patients.

Not all patients with affective disorders, however, had increased crime rates. The researchers found no difference between patients with unipolar major depression and non-patients. "In contrast," they say, "the patients with bipolar affective disorder or with unipolar minor or intermittent depression were found to have twice as high likelihood to be criminally registered [as] their comparison subjects." Modestin et al. note that drug abuse was more common in the criminal bipolar patients than in all other subgroups, while personality disorder was more common in criminal patients with unipolar minor or intermittent depression than in other patients.

Depression and hostility

While Modestin found no link between unipolar major depression and crime, this form of depression is strongly linked to increased hostility and to "anger attacks"-intense, inappropriate angry outbursts associated with sweating, flushing, abnormal heart rhythms, and an "out of control" feeling. One study by Maurizio Fava and colleagues found that that 48% of a group of 31 young depressed patients experienced anger attacks, compared to only 21 percent of non-depressed control subjects.

In a new study, Fava et al. again found that "depressed patients are significantly more hostile and angry than normal controls," In addition, they found that treatment with Prozac, a drug that increases serotonin availability in the brain, led to significant reductions in hostility levels. Low serotonin levels have previously been linked both to aggressive behavior (see related article, Crime Times, Vol. 3, No. 4, Page 4) and to depression.


"Criminal behavior in males with affective disorders," Jiri Modestin, Andreas Hug, and Roland Ammann, Journal of Affective Disorders, Vol. 42, 1997, pp. 29-38. Correspondence: Jiri Modestin, fax (41-1) 383- 4456.


"Hostility changes following antidepressant treatment: Relationship to stress and negative thinking," Maurizio Fava, Katharine Davidson, Jonathan E. Alpert, Andrew A. Nierenberg, John Worthington, Richard O'Sullivan, and Jerrold F. Rosenbaum, Journal of Psychiatric Research, Vol. 30, 1-617-726-7541.

Related Articles: [1998, Vol. 1] [2000, Vol. 6] [2001, Vol. 7]

Return to:
[Author Directory] [Front Page] [Issue Index] [Subject Index] [Title Index]