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The emotional brain in youth
Date:9/4/2011

Recognition of bipolar disorder in adolescents is now clearly established. However, whether bipolarity exists in children remains controversial despite numerous studies that have been conducted on this topic in the last fifteen years. Since the diagnosis of bipolar disorder in children has been rising for the past ten years, clinicians, researchers, parents, and others who care for children are left wondering what accounts for this dramatic increase in diagnosing paediatric bipolar disorder (Dickstein, 2010): is it better recognition of an important psychiatric disorder or is it due to overdiagnosis, misdiagnosis, or a diagnostic trend? In response to this increase, both clinical and research interest in paediatric bipolar disorders have surged, including a re-examination of the diagnostic criteria for this condition based on developmental and neurobiological findings.

Bipolar disorder is a clinically severe affective disorder, in which mood typically swings from the manic pole of euphoria and/or extreme irritability to depression and loss of interest or pleasure. Mixed illness episodes are characterized by both manic and depressive symptoms.

Bipolar disorder can be divided into two major subtypes bipolar type I and bipolar type II , although further extension of the bipolar spectrum may be of clinical relevance.

  • Bipolar type I disorder is characterized by a history of at least one manic episode, with or without depressive symptoms.
  • Bipolar type II disorder is characterized by the presence of both depressive symptoms and a less severe form of mania (hypomania).

The periods between acute illness episodes may last months or even years early in the course of the disease, but later these symptom-free periods tend to decrease. Rapid cycling is a specific course variant which is defined by the occurrence of 4 or more episodes per year.

Bipolar disorder in children and adolescents

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Contact: Sonja Mak
s.mak@update.europe.at
431-405-5734
European College of Neuropsychopharmacology
Source:Eurekalert

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