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Bipolar Treatment Guide for Children, Adolescents Released


Parents of children and adolescents who have bipolar disorder have a new treatment tool. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) has released the new Parents’ Medication Guide for Bipolar Disorder in Children & Adolescents.

Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder was once believed to be extremely rare in young people, but children and adolescents may be affected more than previously thought. Although the exact figures are unknown, the National Institute of Mental Health indicates that the rate of bipolar disorder is approximately 1 percent by adolescence. Along with uncertainty about the disorder, parents are typically concerned about the best and safest way to treat it.

Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that causes unusual or severe shifts in mood, thinking, behavior, and energy level, ranging from extreme irritability and depression to emotional highs. The AACAP notes that there are three primary types of bipolar disorder: bipolar I, bipolar II, and bipolar NOS (not otherwise specified). Bipolar I is characterized by recurring episodes of mania (highs) and major depression, while people with bipolar II mainly have irritability that alternates with major depression.

New Bipolar Treatment Guide
The new guide provides parents with an overview of current treatment options, with emphasis on the effectiveness of combining drug treatment with psychosocial therapy, such as parental training, lifestyle training, and psychotherapy. It offers parents the latest expert medical opinions about these treatment options.

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According to Susan Resko, Executive Director Child & Adolescent Bipolar Foundation, the new guide “compiles the very best information and helps parents decipher the daunting decision-making process. I consider it required reading for any parent of a child with bipolar disorder.”

Currently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved risperidone (Risperdal), quetiapine (Seroquel), and aripiprazole (Abilify) for children aged 10 and older who have bipolar disorder. Lithium (Eskalith, Lithobid) has been approved for young people aged 12 and older, while olanzapine (Zyprexa) has been approved for those aged 13 and older. Aripiprazole and lithium are also approved to prevent recurrence of bipolar symptoms.

Larry Greenhill, MD, president AACAP, points out that experts do not know how many children and adolescents who have bipolar disorder will continue to live with the disorder during adulthood. “What is very clear,” he says, “is that obtaining a careful clinical assessment is utmost and critical to diagnosing bipolar disorder.”

The new bipolar treatment guide for children and adolescents from the AACAP can be accessed online, as can other Parents’ Medication Guide publications.

Reference:American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry



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