Objective: To provide a review of the epidemiology, phenomenology, natural course, comorbidity, neurobiology, and treatment of child and adolescent bipolar disorder (BP) for the past 10 years. This review is provided to prepare applicants for recertification by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.
Method: Literature from Medline and other searches for the past 10 years, earlier relevant articles, and the authors' experience and ongoing National Institute of Mental Health-funded project "Phenomenology and Course of Pediatric Bipolarity" were used.
Results: Age-specific, developmental (child, adolescent, and adult) DSM-IV criteria manifestations; comorbidity and differential diagnoses; and episode and course features are provided. Included are age-specific examples of childhood grandiosity, hypersexuality, and delusions. Differential diagnoses (e.g., specific language disorders, sexual abuse, conduct disorder [CD], schizophrenia, substance abuse), suicidality, and BP-II are discussed.
Conclusion: Available data strongly suggest that prepubertal-onset BP is a nonepisodic, chronic, rapid-cycling, mixed manic state that may be comorbid with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and CD or have features of ADHD and/or CD as initial manifestations. Systematic research on pediatric BP is in its infancy and will require ongoing and future studies to provide developmentally relevant diagnostic methods and treatment.