Once it had been established in the mid-1990s that bipolar disorder affects around 1-1.5 percent of children and adolescents, child mental health researchers who study this disorder had a new problem–how to differentiate the emotional volatility associated with bipolar disorder and that found in ADHD. While not included in the core definition of ADHD, a significant number of children and adults who have ADHD have difficulty regulating their emotions.

To further complicate matters, there is a significant amount of comorbidity–or, two separate disorders existing together in the same person–between ADHD and Bipolar Disorder. Around 80-90 percent of children with bipolar disorder also have ADHD. Among young people with ADHD, as many as 10-15 percent also have bipolar disorder (ADHD being the far more common of the two).

Here, in an interview conducted following his Grand Rounds presentation at the NYU Langone Child Study Center on June 22, 2012, Steve V. Faraone, PhD, discusses the differences in emotionality between those with ADHD, bipolar disorder, and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). Being able to accurate differentiate and diagnose the disorders is crucial because the courses of treatment are quite different.

Dr. Faraone is the director of child and adolescent psychiatry research, and the director of medical genetics research, as well as professor of psychiatry and of neuroscience and physiology at SUNY Upstate Medical University.

His Grand Rounds presentation at the NYU Langone Child Study Center was entitled “Irritable ADHD: Deficient Emotional Self Regulation or Mania?” Learn more about NYU Langone’s Child Study Center: http://www.nyulangone.org/locations/child-study-center.


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