Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Real risks of growing up with bipolar parents

Date:
June 10, 2014
Source:
Concordia University
Summary:
Children of parents with bipolar disorder (BD) are more susceptible to psychosocial problems, most notably risky sexual behavior, researchers report. 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.

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.

Related Articles


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 externalizing behaviours, like delinquency and aggression. We know it is predicted by externalizing behaviours in middle childhood," says Ellenbogen, who is also a member of Concordia's Centre for Research in Human Development.

What can concerned parents with BD do?

To prevent the offspring of parents with BD from engaging in risky behaviour, doctors need to look beyond the patient and give the entire family, including the children, the coping skills they need to live with the disorder. "In psychiatry, we tend to treat the patient -- there's never any evaluation of their family or kids or partners. Across my career, I've been saying that's the wrong way of looking at the issues," Ellenbogen says. "The children of BD patients are at high risk of developing a number of psychiatric and psychosocial problems. We need to think about interventions that will work for all members of the family."

A new pilot prevention program that is open to the public

Ellenbogen is now working to establish the first prevention program for children of parents with BD. Entitled Reducing Unwanted Stress in the Home (RUSH), the intervention will consist of 12 sessions of group therapy, with one group to teach children effective coping strategies and another to teach their parents the skills to manage stress, family discord and children. The pilot program, open to families in the Montreal area, will launch this summer. It will operate in groups of five to six families.

Ellenbogen and his team will monitor the behaviour, hormone levels and mental health of the children before and after the intervention in order to assess the effectiveness of the RUSH program.

"These parents need additional help in organizing family life, parenting, dealing with spouses and coping with stress," Ellenbogen says. "The ultimate goal is to reduce the levels of stress in the family, which we believe will then reduce negative outcomes in their children."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. R Nijjar, Mark A. Ellenbogen, Sheilagh Hodgins. Personality, coping, risky behavior, and mental disorders in the offspring of parents with bipolar disorder: A comprehensive psychosocial assessment. Journal of Affective Disorders, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2014.04.047

Cite This Page:

Concordia University. "Real risks of growing up with bipolar parents." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140610144708.htm>.
Concordia University. (2014, June 10). Real risks of growing up with bipolar parents. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140610144708.htm
Concordia University. "Real risks of growing up with bipolar parents." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140610144708.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Fears Keep Guinea Hospitals Empty

Ebola Fears Keep Guinea Hospitals Empty

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) Fears of Ebola are keeping doctors and patients alike away from hospitals in the West African nation of Guinea. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Despite Rising Death Toll, Many Survive Ebola

Despite Rising Death Toll, Many Survive Ebola

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) The family of a Dallas nurse infected with Ebola in the US says doctors can no longer detect the virus in her. Despite the mounting death toll in West Africa, there are survivors there too. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Is your child ready? Video provided by Working Mother
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