People with bipolar disorder are more than twice as likely to have suffered childhood adversity. Bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme depressive and manic states which impair quality of life and increase suicide risk. An urgent need in this field is better understanding of risk factors that can be used to improve detection and treatment.
A University of Manchester study which looked at more than thirty years of research into bipolar, found that people with the disorder are 2.63 times more likely to have suffered emotional, physical or sexual abuse as children than the general population.
In the study, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, the researchers identified 19 studies from hundreds published between 1980 and 2014 which gathered data from millions of patient records, interviews and assessments.
By applying rigorous statistical analysis to the data, the researchers compared the likelihood of people with and without bipolar disorder having adverse childhood experiences, such as physical, emotional and sexual abuse. The findings revealed a strong link between these events and subsequent diagnosis.
Bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme depressive and manic states which impair quality of life and increase suicide risk. An urgent need in this field is better understanding of risk factors that can be used to improve detection and treatment.
Dr Filippo Varese, one of the study authors, said: “Much research into bipolar has focused on bio-genetics, but following previous work on schizophrenia, we felt that a similar effect could be found in bipolar. The link between experiencing a troubled childhood and subsequently being diagnosed with this serious condition is extremely strong.”
The authors defined childhood adversity as experiencing neglect, abuse, bullying or the loss of a parent before the age of 19. There was a particularly strong link between emotional abuse with this four times more likely to have happened to people with bipolar. However, the loss of a parent did not raise the risk significantly.
The ‘meta-analysis’ approach has been applied in this study for the first time in relation to bipolar disorder and childhood adversity and, as a result, the findings represent a much larger pool of data than has been previously available.
The findings have implications for those providing treatment, as they can factor in these childhood experiences when developing personalized therapy plans.
Dr Jasper Palmier-Claus, the lead author, added: “Handled sensitively, inquiries about a person’s childhood experiences can make a significant difference to how treatment proceeds and the types of support that can be put into place.”
Related Online Continuing Education Courses
Professional Development Resources is a Florida nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) approved to offer continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA): the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; and by the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners. We are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within one week of completion.