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Do Manic Episodes Lead to Future Bipolar Diagnosis With High Risk Children?

manic episodes lead to bipolar in children

Children who are at a higher risk for bipolar disorder because they have one or both parents with this mental disorder were the focus of a new research study. The results showed a link between high risk children who have mild manic episodes and a future bipolar diagnosis. What this may show is that the mild manic episodes are precursors to actually developing bipolar disorder. Children who have at least one bipolar parent have substantially higher rates of both manic and depressive episodes. Senior author of the study and the Behavioral Health at Nationwide Children’s Hospital medical director David Axelson, M.D. explained “Mental health practitioners should carefully assess for short episodes of manic symptoms, major depression, and disruptive behavior disorders in high-risk children, as these are risk factors for the future onset of bipolar disorder.”

When discussing the link between manic episodes in children at high risk and a future bipolar diagnosis Dr. Axelson also stated “This may be particularly important if medication is going to be used for treating mood or behavioral symptoms in the child, because some medications might increase the risk of developing mania or psychotic symptoms in someone who is already at very high risk for developing bipolar disorder. Prescribers might choose different medication options, or use lower doses and monitor for problems more closely. Most children who have a parent with bipolar disorder will have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder, such as attention-deficit disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, an anxiety disorder or depression, at some point during their youth. However, most children who have a parent with bipolar disorder do not develop bipolar disorder.”

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