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J Affect Disord. 2005 Nov;88(3):279-85. Epub 2005 Sep 16.

Impulsive aggression with irritability and responsive to divalproex: a pediatric bipolar spectrum disorder phenotype?

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Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, 3333 Burnet Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45229-3039, USA.



The objective of this retrospective chart review was to evaluate the phenomenology and response to divalproex in a sub-population of children admitted to an inpatient setting with severe impairing symptoms of irritability and aggression. In addition, we examined whether the symptomatology of this group was consistent with a pediatric divalproex-responsive bipolar spectrum disorder.


The charts of 46 child and adolescent patients with prominent impulsive aggression with irritability admitted to a crisis stabilization center were assessed retrospectively. Impulsive aggressive symptoms were assessed for admission and discharge severity by two clinicians using the Overt Aggression Scale (OAS) and the Anger-Hostility Subscale of the SCL-90 (SCL-A), with overall functioning changes assessed using the Children's Global Assessment Scale (C-GAS).


Statistically significant improvements were obtained for the group in the C-GAS, with significant decreases in the OAS and the SCL-A scores at discharge, following a maximal 14-day stay. No severe side effects were reported. All patients met the criteria for a potential pediatric bipolar phenotype.


This was a retrospective study without randomization or a control group. Additionally, the non-blinded design may have biased the raters concerning the effectiveness of divalproex for impulsive aggression.


Our data are in line with divalproex response in children and adolescents with target symptoms of explosive temper and mood instability. Our data further suggest that such symptoms, coupled with impulsive aggression and irritability, as well as related manic symptoms, constitute a pediatric divalproex-responsive bipolar spectrum disorder.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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