Childhood diagnosis of bipolar disorder may be more creditable then some have thought

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According to findings published in the October issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, childhood diagnosis of bipolar disorder may be more creditable then some have thought. Findings from the study revealed that 44.4% of children diagnosed with bipolar disorder had manic episodes after the age of eighteen, a rate that was 13 to 44 times higher than population prevalence. Despite these findings, however, some psychiatrists continue to be skeptical about the presentation of bipolar I disorder in children because it presents differently in adults. However, in general, these findings establish a “…growing awareness that serious mental illnesses do not emerge de novo when individuals reach adulthood, but rather reflect early developmental processes,” said Ellen Leibenluft, M.D., of the National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Md. The following is an excerpt of an article from Medpage Today that reviews the findings:

The prospective, controlled, blindly rated study followed 108 children — 93.9% of the initial cohort age seven to 16 in 1995 — with about yearly ascertainment of symptoms for eight years.

All participants were in their first episode of manic or mixed phase bipolar I at baseline.

Diagnosis was by Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) criteria with at least one cardinal symptom –elation or grandiosity — to avoid overlap with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

During follow-up, 87.8% of patients recovered but 73.3% of these went on to relapse into mania or mixed mania episodes with a mean of 2.0 episodes over eight years.

Children who got little emotional warmth from their mothers were significantly more likely to relapse after recovery independent of their parents’ mental health and other factors (hazard ratio 2.9, P=0.001).

Click here to read the rest of this article from Medpage Today

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