Bipolar Teens may Have Mania but no Depression

Bipolar disorder in teens may show up as mania only without any depression cycles

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Bipolar disorder is usually thought of cycling between highs and lows.  A new study shows that teens may be at risk for having mania without the depression, and this might hinder detection of the disorder.

Bipolar disorder is as common in teens as in adults, but teens may have more mania without the depression. Having just one side of the symptoms, the highs without the lows, can make their behavior harder to classify. 

"Discuss your child’s mood and behavior with her pediatrician."

A study, led by Kathleen Ries Merikangas, PhD, at the National Institute of Mental Health, looked at the rates of bipolar disorder with and without depression in teens in the US.

As part of the National Comorbidity Survey Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A), 10,123 teens between the ages of 13 and 18 were interviewed. The NSC-A interviewed children and asked questions of at least one parent.

They found that 2.5 percent of the teens met criteria for bipolar disorder, and that 1.7 percent of the teens had mania only without depression.  It is estimated that 2.4 percent of adults have bipolar disorder.

The rates of bipolar disease were similar for teens and adults, which may mean that bipolar disease is appearing during adolescents.

The high rates of teens with mania but no depression episodes may indicate that bipolar disease is manifesting in different ways for adolescents.

The authors concluded, “The high prevalence and clinical significance of mania without depression suggest that the assessment of mania should receive greater attention in the evaluation of mood changes and disorders in adolescents in the community and treatment settings that occur outside the mental health specialty sector.”

The article was published online ahead of print in May in the Archives of General Psychiatry. Authors of this study report financial affiliations with Merck, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Lundbeck and GlaxoSmithKline.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 20, 2012
Last Updated:
July 31, 2012