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The real risks of growing up with bipolar parents
Date:6/10/2014

This news release is available in French.

Montreal, June 10, 2014 Bipolar disorder (BD) is among the 10 most burdensome medical conditions, according to the World Health Organization. The disorder is known for its dramatic highs of extreme euphoria, racing thoughts and decreased need for sleep, as well as its profound lows of sadness and despair.

Because it is also associated with a heightened risk of suicide, substance abuse, hypersexuality, familial discord and aggressive behaviour, BD affects not just those suffering from it, but also those around them especially their children.

While previous research has shown that children of parents with BD are at a greater risk of developing psychiatric disorders, the psychosocial implications of being raised by parents with BD has been ignored until now.

A new study conducted by Mark Ellenbogen, a psychology professor at Concordia University, and Rami Nijjar, a graduate student, reveals that children of parents with BD are more susceptible to psychosocial problems, most notably risky sexual behaviour. The study was published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

Using a longitudinal approach, the researchers followed children of parents with bipolar disorder and children from families without mental disorder from ages four to 12 until early adulthood.

They assessed:

  • Suicidal behaviour

  • Self-harm

  • Smoking

  • Delinquent or criminal behaviour

  • Risky sexual behaviour (sexual activity before age 16, unprotected sex, abortions)

For both genders, the researchers saw the biggest group difference in the last category, which can be seen as an extension of other tendencies.

"Risky sexual behaviour falls along the spectrum of general ex
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Contact: Clea Desjardins
clea.desjardins@concordia.ca
514-848-242-45068
Concordia University
Source:Eurekalert

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