Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Affect Disord. 2005 Feb;84(2-3):179-86.

High rate of unrecognized bipolar mixed states among destitute Hispanic adolescents referred for "major depressive disorder".

Author information

  • 1Mental Health and Mental Retardation Clinic, Rio Grande City, TX, USA.



To ascertain the rate of bipolarity among adolescent Hispanic youths referred for the treatment of "major depressive disorder" (MDD) in a community mental health clinic (CMHC) in which the threshold for referral was moderate to severe impairment.


The patients were 49 consecutively presenting Hispanic adolescents (33 girls and 16 boys with a range of 12-17 years), many of whom had histories of unruly, hostile and/or assaultive behavior; indeed, 1 out of 3 had been referred to the CMHC from the "First-Time Offenders Program." Upon evaluation at the CMHC triage unit, all were diagnosed as MDD rendered by a licensed paramedical mental health professional managing this unit. They were subsequently evaluated by a psychiatrist using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV.


Seventeen (51.5%) of the girls and 10 (62.5%) of the boys met the DSM-IV criteria for bipolar disorder. Among the bipolars, 44.4% were bipolar II and 55.6% bipolar I; 74.1%% had mixed states and 40.7% were psychotic (not mutually exclusive categories). Euphoric mania was virtually absent in this population.


Data on social deviance was based on chart review. Nonetheless, given that a third had already entered the juvenile justice system upon referral validates the accuracy of characterizing this population as at least moderately impaired from the social deviance standpoint.


Hispanic adolescents referred with a presumptive diagnosis of MDD must be carefully assessed for the presence of occult bipolarity using a structured interview. Concurrent aggressiveness and depression should tip mental health clinicians towards bipolarity--especially mixed states. Such activated-hostile depressive (and/or manic) mixed states may in part underlie the social deviance in these patients. Given that these destitute youth are often simultaneously encountered in the juvenile justice system, undetected bipolarity among Hispanic adolescents initially regarded to have MDD represents a matter of grave public health importance. Appropriate training for mental health staff to recognize bipolar spectrum disorders in CMHCs should be mandated.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Support Center