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J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2003 Winter;13(4):507-14.

Clinical correlates of episodicity in juvenile mania.

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  • 1The Mood and Anxiety Program, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.



Researchers debate whether the diagnostic criteria for mania should differ between children and adults. Specifically, although the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (fourth edition; DSM-IV) requires episodic mood changes, children commonly are diagnosed as manic on the basis of chronic irritability. In this preliminary study, children carrying a diagnosis of bipolar disorder (BPD) in the community were classified as having either episodic or chronic symptoms. We hypothesized that the episodic group would be more likely to have a history of psychosis and a parental history of BPD, whereas the chronic group would be more likely to have conduct disorder.


Parents of children carrying the BPD diagnosis were interviewed on the telephone to obtain psychiatric and family histories. Children were considered episodic (n = 34) if they had a history of one or more DSM-IV manic/hypomanic episodes meeting full duration criteria and chronic (n = 53) if they had no discernable episodes.


The episodic group was more likely to have had psychosis, parental history of BPD, and to have experienced each manic symptom except for irritability and psychomotor agitation. Children in the episodic group were also more likely to have had a depressive episode meeting full DSM-IV criteria and were more likely to have made a suicide attempt. Children in the chronic group were not more likely to meet criteria for conduct disorder but were more likely to exhibit violence toward others.


These preliminary data indicate that, among children being treated for BPD in the community, those with discrete episodes of mania may be more likely to have a lifetime history of psychosis and a parental history of BPD. The latter hypothesis should be tested in a sample where relatives are interviewed directly.

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