Bipolar Children Become Bipolar Young Adults
A recent study has found that children with bipolar disorder do not seem to grow out of the mood disorder as they age. The study was held by psychiatrist Barbara Geller and her colleagues at Washington University in St. Louis, and is the first long-term study of children and young adults with bipolar disorder.
The researchers studied children who were in pediatric and psychiatric clinics for their first episode of mania between 1995 and 1998. All in all, there were 108 children in the study and all were primarily from financially stable, white families.
The children had received psychological treatments, and in some cases medications, from their local doctors. Each of the children had at least two weeks of manic elation, though some doctors will diagnose bipolar disorder with only one week of mania. A majority of the children were also diagnosed with ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) and other behavioral problems.
The children and their mothers were interviewed by the researchers nine different times. All of the interviews took place eight years after their original bipolar diagnosis, which made the children nearly 18 years old, with an average of 20 years old. The intention of the study was to determine whether or not their episodes of bipolar disorder disappeared for any length of time, and whether or not the disorder seemed to follow the children into early adulthood.
The researchers found that almost all, 101 out of 108 children, experienced a disappearance of symptoms of bipolar disorderfor at least two months during their teens. Unfortunately, symptoms of mania reoccurred in 74 of the patients after a disappearance.
During the study there were 54 patients who were followed until they were older than 18. Twenty-four of these youngsters were still having episodes of mania after age 18. That is a whopping 44 percent, and nearly 40 percent higher than the national average of mania in the general populace. Out of those 18 or older, nearly one-third went on to abuse drugs and alcohol. The researchers also noted that adult relapses of mania were most common in those who had aggressive or dysfunctional relationships with their mothers.
After the study, researchers concluded that children with bipolar disorder rarely grow out of the disease, even when they have symptom-free periods. Their results were published in the October 2008 issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.
Bipolar disorder is marked by frequent, dramatic mood swings, mania, depression and emotional volatility. At times patients experiences manic euphoria accompanied by hallucinations and delusions, and at other times they will experience depression that may be so severe it becomes suicidal.
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