Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Irritability Should Be Considered When Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder In Children

Date:
June 25, 2009
Source:
Lifespan
Summary:
Diagnosing children with bipolar disorder is challenging and controversial. Some children with bipolar disorder are diagnosed based on irritable mood alone. Findings support current diagnostic criteria.

A new study from Bradley Hospital and The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, as well as two other institutions, adds to mounting evidence that clinicians consider irritability as a symptom when diagnosing pediatric bipolar disorder.

Related Articles


Reporting in the July issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, researchers say a small percentage of children with bipolar disorder experience manic episodes without extreme elation – one of the hallmarks of the disorder – and are diagnosed based on irritable mood alone.

"Diagnosing children with bipolar disorder is challenging. One of the chief controversies is whether irritability should be included among the criteria for this diagnosis because it can also overlap with a number of other psychiatric disorders, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder," says lead author Jeffrey Hunt, MD, a child psychiatrist and training director at Bradley Hospital. "Our findings confirm that while irritable-only mania is uncommon, it does exist – particularly in younger children – and should be considered in a bipolar diagnosis."

Bipolar disorder is characterized by dramatic mood swings from euphoria, elation and irritability – the manic phase of the disorder – to severe depression. Bipolar disorder often begins in late adolescence or early adulthood, although it can develop as early as the preschool years. Recent studies have shown that the number of children and teens being treated for bipolar disorder has grown dramatically in the last decade. Although it is unclear what has caused this increase, experts believe it may be due in part to more aggressive diagnoses by physicians and a greater awareness of pediatric bipolar disorder in the medical community.

Hunt and colleagues studied 361 children between the ages of 7 and 17 with bipolar disorder participating in the multi-site Course and Outcome of Bipolar Illness in Youth (COBY) study at Bradley Hospital and Alpert Medical School, the University of Pittsburgh and the University of California-Los Angeles. COBY is the largest and most comprehensive study of children and adolescents with bipolar disorder to date.

Researchers quantified the frequency and severity of manic symptoms of each participant, including whether irritability and elation were present. Based on this data, the group was then reclassified into three subgroups: elation-only, irritable-only and both elated and irritable.

Approximately 10 percent of children fell into the irritable-only category, while elated-only constituted about 15 percent. Nearly three-quarters experienced both elation and irritability. The irritable-only participants were significantly younger in age than the other two groups; however, there were no other sociodemographic differences between the groups. There were also no significant differences in terms of bipolar subtype, rate of psychiatric comorbidities, severity and duration of illness, and family history of mania and other psychiatric disorders. However, depression and alcohol abuse in second-degree relatives occurred more frequently in the irritable-only subgroup.

"The fact that the irritable-only and elation-only subgroup had similar clinical characteristics and family histories of bipolar disorder provides support for continuing to consider episodic irritability in the diagnosis of pediatric bipolar disorder," says Hunt, who is an assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Alpert Medical School. Hunt is also training director of the child and adolescent fellowship and triple board residency programs.

The authors say continual, long-term follow-up of this study sample will help clarify whether the presence or predominance of elation or irritability at baseline will predict future clinical outcomes.

The research was funded by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health. Study co-authors include Jennifer Dyl and the late Henrietta Leonard from Bradley Hospital and Alpert Medical School; Christianne Esposito-Smythers, Martin Keller, Lance Swenson and Robert Stout from Alpert Medical School; Boris Birmaher, David Axelson, Neal Ryan, Benjamin Goldstein, Tina Goldstein, MaryKay Gill and Mei Yang from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center; and Michael Strober from the David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California at Los Angeles.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Lifespan. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Lifespan. "Irritability Should Be Considered When Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder In Children." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 June 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090624152943.htm>.
Lifespan. (2009, June 25). Irritability Should Be Considered When Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder In Children. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090624152943.htm
Lifespan. "Irritability Should Be Considered When Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder In Children." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090624152943.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Cambridge scientists have unravelled the genetic code of a rare tapeworm that lived inside a patient's brain for at least four year. Researchers hope it will present new opportunities to diagnose and treat this invasive parasite. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins