Harvard Mental Health Letter

When children with bipolar disorder grow up

Study reports that symptoms persist into adulthood, and substance abuse is common.

Childhood bipolar disorder remains one of the most controversial diagnoses in psychiatry. A federally funded study does not answer all the questions, but does provide evidence that when the disorder occurs in children, relapses are common and consequences can be severe.

The Phenomenology and Course of Pediatric Bipolar Disorders study, which is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and still in progress, enrolled 115 children, ages 7 to 16, between 1995 and 1998. All met criteria for bipolar disorder type 1 as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM–IV).

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