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J Clin Psychiatry. 2009 Aug;70(8):1178-85. doi: 10.4088/JCP.08m04696. Epub 2009 Jun 30.

Is psychopharmacologic treatment associated with neuropsychological deficits in bipolar youth?

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  • 1Pediatric Psychopharmacology Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, 185 Alewife Brook Pkwy, Suite 2000, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.



To evaluate the impact of psychopharmacologic treatments on neuropsychological functioning in bipolar youth.


Participants were 173 children (aged 6-17 years) with DSM-IV bipolar disorder. Participants were comprehensively assessed using structured diagnostic interviews (Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children) and neuropsychological measures (eg, subtests of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-III and Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-III) during the years 2001-2006. Comparisons were made in neuropsychological functioning between medicated and unmedicated youth with bipolar disorder.


Children who were treated with mood stabilizers performed significantly (P < .05) more poorly than untreated children on measures of processing speed and working memory. Treatment with other classes of medication, including second-generation antipsychotics, was not significantly associated with neuropsychological impairments.


Treatment with mood stabilizers may be associated with specific neuropsychological impairments. Cognitive side effects may need to be considered in selecting particular psychopharmacologic treatments for children with bipolar disorder.

┬ęCopyright 2009 Physicians Postgraduate Press, Inc.

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