The rate of bipolar symptoms among adolescents was found to be almost as high as that of adults, according to findings in a recent National Institute of Mental Health study.
Kathleen Merikangas, PhD, and colleagues analyzed data collected on 10,123 adolescents aged 13 to 18 years who were part of the NIMH-funded National Comorbidity Survey-Adolescent Supplement, a nationally representative survey that included face-to-face interviews conducted by staff at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan.
Interviewers used a modified version of the World Health Organization Composite International Diagnostic Interview. The researchers applied DSM-IV criteria to the data collected from the national survey, focusing on comparisons between adolescents with mania and hypomania, with or without depression, among those who met criteria for bipolar I or II disorders or major depressive disorder. Adolescents with other psychiatric disorders and with no psychiatric disorder were included for comparison.
Results show that 2.5% of adolescents met criteria for bipolar disorder in their lifetime, and 2.2% met criteria in the past 12 months. According to the NIMH, approximately 3.9% of adults met criteria for bipolar disorder. Among those adolescents surveyed, 1.7% had mania alone in their lifetime, compared with 1.3% reporting mania within the past year. Rates increased with age, according to researchers, with 2.1% of adolescents aged 13 to 14 years reporting bipolar symptoms, compared with 3.1% of adolescents aged 17 to 18 years (OR=1.5; 95% CI, 1.0-2.1).
The prevalence rates of hypomania and mania and major depressive disorder were greater among females (3.3%) than males (1.8%), according to researchers (OR=2.9; 95% CI, 1.1-3.2), but rates of mania alone were significantly greater in males (2.2%) than females (1.2%; OR=0.5; 95% CI, 0.3-0.8).
“The increasing prevalence of bipolar disorder with increasing age and the comparable rate of bipolar disorder with those of adult samples highlight adolescence as the peak period of onset of mania,” the researchers wrote.
Disclosure: The National Institute of Mental Health provided financial support for the study.