Bipolar risk and mental imagery susceptibility in a representative sample of Chinese adults residing in the community.
Ng RM., Heyes SB., McManus F., Kennerley H., Holmes EA.
BACKGROUND: We need to better understand the cognitive factors associated with risk for bipolar disorders. Recent research suggests that increased susceptibility to mental imagery may be one such factor. However, since this research was primarily conducted with Western students and at a single time-point, it is not known whether the relationship between imagery susceptibility and bipolar symptoms exists across cultures or within the general community, or whether this relationship remains stable over time. AIM: This study evaluated whether Chinese adults identified as being at high (HR) versus low (LR) risk of developing bipolar disorders showed greater mental imagery susceptibility. We aimed to test whether such a relationship was stable over time by measuring imagery characteristics at baseline and at the 7-week follow-up. METHOD: This prospective study recruited a community sample of N = 80 Chinese adults screened for the absence of neurotic and psychotic disorders. The sample was split into HR (n = 18) and LR (n = 62) groups at baseline based on a criterion cut-off score on a measure of hypomania, the Mood Disorder Questionnaire (MDQ). Participants completed measures of imagery susceptibility and its impact: the Spontaneous Use of Imagery Scale (SUIS) and the Impact of Future Events Scale (IFES), at baseline and 7 weeks later. RESULTS: HR group reported greater tendency to use imagery in daily life (SUIS) and greater emotional impact of prospective imagery (IFES) than LR group at baseline. These results remained stable at follow-up. CONCLUSION: This study provides preliminary evidence for increased susceptibility to mental imagery in individuals at high risk of bipolar disorders recruited from a community sample of Chinese adults. This extends previous research in Western student samples suggesting that imagery (both levels of use and its emotional impact) may be a cognitive factor with cross-cultural relevance that is stable over time.