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Pharmacological interventions for bipolar youth: Developmental considerations

  • MELISSA P. DELBELLO (a1) and ROBERT A. KOWATCH (a1)
Abstract

Despite the high prevalence rate, there have been relatively few controlled studies to systematically examine pharmacological treatments for children and adolescents with bipolar disorder. We review the differences in clinical characteristics between youth and adults with bipolar disorder and the extant literature of pharmacological treatments for children and adolescents with bipolar disorder, as well as discuss the effectiveness of pharmacological interventions for treating children and adolescents who are at familial risk for developing bipolar disorder. Although the number of controlled studies of youth with manic and mixed episodes is rapidly growing, there are few studies examining treatments for depression and the prevention of recurrent affective episodes in this population. Although children and adolescents with bipolar disorder commonly present with co-occurring psychiatric disorders, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, there are limited data to guide the treatment of these patients. Recently, studies have begun to characterize prodromal manifestations of bipolar disorder and identify early intervention strategies for treating children and adolescents with an elevated risk for developing bipolar disorder.

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Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Melissa P. DelBello, Division of Bipolar Disorders Research, Department of Psychiatry, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH 45267-0559; E-mail: delbelmp@email.uc.edu
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