Bipolar disorder in adolescents is a serious mental illness with problematic diagnosis that adversely affects social, academic, emotional, and family functioning. The objective of this study was to analyze features of premorbid and clinical symptoms, comorbidity, and course of bipolar disorder in adolescence. Data for analysis were collected from all case histories (N=6) of 14–18-year-old patients, hospitalized with diagnosis of bipolar disorder in theUnit of Children’s and Adolescents’ Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Hospital of Kaunas University of Medicine, during the period from 2000 to 2005. Analysis of bipolar disorder course showed that five patients previously had been diagnosed with an episode of depression. The most frequent symptoms typical to bipolar disorder were disobedience and impulsive behavior, rapid changes of mood. The most common premorbid features were frequent changes of mood, being active in communication, hyperactive behavior. Adolescence-onset bipolar disorder was frequently comorbid with emotionally instable personality disorder, borderline type. Findings of the study confirm the notion that oppositional or impulsive behavior, rapid changes of mood without any reason, dysphoric mood and euphoric mood episodes with increased energy were cardinal symptoms of bipolar disorder with mania in adolescents. Most frequent premorbid features of these patients were quite similar to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder making differential diagnosis problematic.
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