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Child Adolesc Psychiatr Clin N Am. 2002 Jul;11(3):533-53, ix.

Children of parents with bipolar disorder. A population at high risk for major affective disorders.

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Department of Psychology, Université de Montréal, C.P. 6128, Succ. Centre Ville Montréal, Québec H3C 3J7, Canada.


Children of parents who suffer from bipolar disorder are largely ignored by psychiatric services despite the fact that they constitute a population at very high risk for major depression and bipolar disorder in adulthood and a wide variety of disorders in childhood and adolescence. Major depression and bipolar disorder are chronic, recurrent disorders that seriously impair psychosocial functioning across the life-span. Evidence suggests that in this population bipolar disorder is preceded by externalizing disorders in childhood in many cases, and by depression in some cases. While heredity provides the vulnerability for the development of these characteristics, being raised by parents who model inappropriate coping skills, create a stressful family environment, and provide inadequate support and structure, contribute to consolidating these characteristics.

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