Impulsivity is a behavioural response to a poorly designed internal or external stimulus, without taking into account medium or long-term consequences and usually associated with deleterious outcomes for the person.

Thanks to Fondation FondaMental Suisse, a collaboration between Inserm and UNIGE/HUG has made it possible to study impulsivity in people with different psychiatric disorders. This study showed a high level of impulsivity in people with attention deficit with or without hyperactivity (ADHD) compared to other populations studied. People with borderline personality disorder (BPD) also reported increased impulsivity compared to the general population. In contrast, the impulsivity level of people with bipolar disorder (BP) did not differ from the general population average, only those with comorbidity of attention deficit with or without hyperactivity or borderline personality disorder had a high level of impulsivity. In addition, in patients with bipolar disorder, impulsivity depended in part on the trauma experienced in childhood.

The findings of this research therefore suggest that impulsivity is not intrinsically related to bipolar disorder but may result in part from childhood trauma or the presence of comorbidity such as attention deficit with or without hyperactivity or borderline personality disorder in these patients.

Richard-Lepouriel, H., Kung, A. L., Hasler, R., Bellivier, F., Prada, P., Gard, S., … & Aubry, J. M. (2019). Impulsivity and its association with childhood trauma experiences across bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and borderline personality disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders 244, 33-41.