A Link Between Bipolar Disorder in Children and Maltreatment
June 15, 2016

Research Suggests Childhood Maltreatment Linked to Bipolar Disorder in Children

On average, 40 to 50 percent of cases of bipolar disorder in children have experienced a form of childhood maltreatment. Childhood maltreatment is the potential or actual harm to a child, whether intentional or not. It can occur from an act or failure to act involving emotional, physical and sexual abuse, neglect, and witnessing domestic violence. Childhood maltreatment can result in extreme mental disorders throughout life. Research on bipolar disorder in children has consistently shown that maltreatment can be linked to a range of negative clinical outcomes. Most children who have suffered from maltreatment are diagnosed with severe mental disorders in adulthood. National Elf Service, provides input on current research that shows a link between bipolar disorder in children and childhood maltreatment.

Testing The Theory

Researchers reviewed 30 eligible studies pertaining childhood maltreatment and bipolar disorder. They hoped to connect negative clinical outcomes from maltreatment in bipolar disorder in children. They found that negative clinical outcomes were significantly greater in children with bipolar disorder who had experienced maltreatment than in children with bipolar disorder who hadn’t. Negative clinical outcomes can include, adverse illness progression, impaired cognitive function, increased risk of suicide attempts, younger age of onset, increased depressive episodes, and increased panic disorders or substance abuse. Researchers found that PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and an increased risk of suicide attempt were the largest risks for bipolar disorder in children who had experienced maltreatment. They were twice as likely to attempt suicide, and over three times more likely to experience symptoms of PTSD.

Understanding Childhood Maltreatment

Childhood maltreatment is a highly common issue within society. The negative effects that can occur from maltreatment can drastically change a child’s life long term. Providing therapists with a detailed history of childhood maltreatment could provide them with a better understanding of what a child or adult needs. Looking at childhood trauma can open up new doors for treatment options and tools for bipolar disorder in children. The research reveals how understand childhood maltreatment can provide better targeted and more specific treatment options.

For more information about bipolar disorder in children, check out ViewPoint Center.

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