Impulsivity in children and adolescents with mood disorders and unaffected offspring of bipolar parents

Compr Psychiatry. 2014 Aug;55(6):1337-41. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2014.04.018. Epub 2014 May 2.


Objective: Increased impulsivity seems to be present across all phases of bipolar disorder (BD). Impulsivity may therefore represent an endophenotype for BD, if it is also found among normal individuals at high genetic risk for mood disorders. In this study, we assessed impulsivity across four different groups of children and adolescents: patients with BD, major depressive disorder (MDD) patients, unaffected offspring of bipolar parents (UO), and healthy controls (HC).

Subjects and methods: 52 patients with BD, 31 with MDD, 20 UO, and 45 HC completed the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS-11), an instrument designed to measure trait impulsivity.

Results: UO displayed significantly higher total BIS-11 impulsivity scores than HC (p=0.02) but lower scores than BD patients (F=27.12, p<0.01). Multiple comparison analysis revealed higher BIS-11 total scores among BD patients when compared to HC (p<0.01) and UO (p<0.01). MDD patients had higher BIS-11 scores when compared to HC (p<0.01). Differences between MDD patients and UO, as well as between MDD and BD patients, were not statistically significant.

Conclusion: Our findings suggest that trait impulsivity is increased among children and adolescents with mood disorders, as well as in unaffected individuals at high genetic risk for BD.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bipolar Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Bipolar Disorder / genetics
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / genetics
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology*
  • Endophenotypes*
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior*
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Male
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Psychological Tests
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult