Though many people affected by psychological concerns, including those who are bipolar, are able to manage their concerns either on their own or with professional mental help, some may experience difficulty in raising children who do not develop certain mental health issues as a direct result of observing their parents. A study recently conducted at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Pittsburgh found that children of parents with bipolar concerns were about eight times as likely to develop symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, and were significantly more likely to experience other mental health issues as compared to children with parents in good mental health. The children of parents affected by bipolar were also at higher risk for experiencing two or more mental health concerns concurrently.
The study tracked the behaviors and relationships of hundreds of children and their parents, separating participants based on the existence or nonexistence of a diagnosis of bipolar concerns in the parents. Controls were set into place to remove possible connections to substance abuse, learning disabilities, and other mental issues. Though the study acknowledged that working towards diagnosing very young children with certain mental health issues was a challenging task, the researchers relied on extant work suggesting that reliable diagnoses could be made as young as age two.
The results, while initially alarming to some, may hold promise for early detection and treatment of mental health concerns amongst youth, a measure which could have a profound impact on the lives of scores of children. Through identifying the key triggers and environmental factors involved in the development of these issues, mental health professionals may be able to provide what is often hailed as the best treatment available: prevention.
© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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