Further Evidence for a Developmental Subtype of Bipolar Disorder Defined by Age at Onset: Results From the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
American Journal of Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 12.3). 10/2006; 163(9):1633-6. DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.163.9.1633
Source: PubMed


This study examines the relationship between age at onset of bipolar I disorder and illness characteristics among adults in a community sample.
The National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions identified 1,411 adults with bipolar disorder. For analyses, bipolar disorder subjects were divided into three age at onset groups: childhood (less than 13 years old, N=113), adolescence (13-18 years old, N=339), and adulthood (19 years or older, N=959).
Nonremitting bipolar disorder was most prevalent among childhood-onset subjects, and childhood-onset subjects were most likely to experience prolonged episodes. Antisocial personality disorder was most prevalent among childhood-onset subjects. Drug use disorders were more prevalent among childhood-onset and adolescent-onset, as compared with adult-onset, subjects. Prevalence of mixed episodes or irritability did not differ significantly between groups.
Findings corroborate clinical studies: illness characteristics among adults with childhood-onset bipolar disorder are similar to those described in children with bipolar disorder.

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