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Rates of bipolar diagnosis in youth rapidly climbing, treatment patterns similar to adults
Date:9/3/2007

lts. Anticonvulsant medications, such as valproate (Depakote) and carbamazepine (Tegretol), were the most frequently prescribed type of mood stabilizers in both groups.

Doctors prescribed antidepressant medications in slightly over one-third of visits by youth and adults. Antidepressant medications include the older classes of antidepressant medications, such as tricyclics, tetracyclics, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs); selective serontonin reuptake inhibitors, such as fluoxetine (Prozac) and paroxetine (Paxil); and also newer types of antidepressants, including venlafaxine (Effexor). In both age groups, about one-third of the visits where antidepressant medications were prescribed did not include prescription of a mood stabilizer. This trend raises concerns, considering an earlier NIMH-funded study (Thase & Sachs, 2000) which reported that treating adults who have bipolar disorder with an antidepressant in the absence of a mood stabilizer may put them at risk of switching to mania. Also, a recent NIMH study showed that for depressed adults with bipolar disorder who are taking a mood stabilizer, adding an antidepressant medication was no more effective in managing bipolar symptoms (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/press/stepbd-medication.cfm) than a placebo (sugar pill).

Roughly the same percentage of youth and adult bipolar visits included a prescription for an antipsychotic medication, although young patients were more likely to be prescribed one of the newer, atypical antipsychotic medications, such as aripiprazole (Abilify) or olanzapine (Zyprexa), than other types of antipsychotics. This finding suggests that doctors may be basing their treatment choices for bipolar youth on prescribing practices for adults with the disorder.

However, one main difference between youth and adult treatment was that children and teens were more likely than adults to be prescribed a stimu
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Contact: Karin Lee
NIMHpress@nih.gov
301-443-4536
NIH/National Institute of Mental Health
Source:Eurekalert

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