Bipolar Parents’ Children at High Risk for ADHD, Other Issues

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

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Kallis


    January 30th, 2010 at 5:32 AM

    sad to know that children of people already having a problem undergo further problems… must be a really tough thing for the entire family.

  • yolanda


    January 30th, 2010 at 6:08 AM

    Well we all know that these kinds of tendencies can be genetic so I’, not surprised to hear about these higher occurrences.

  • alison


    January 30th, 2010 at 9:11 PM

    Now that the study has found substantial evidence that kids of such parents are at a greater risk, some measures need to be undertaken… your point that it may happen due to them seeing the things in their parents should be a good place to start… we could have the kids of such parents to undergo some kind of a regular therapy or something to ensure that the risk is cut down…

  • Terri


    January 31st, 2010 at 12:05 PM

    Well short of telling these parents that they are not allowed to have kids because of the troubles that they have with their own mental health, there is nothing that really can be done other to know that from an early age these kids need to be watched to make sure that they do not begin to display the same tendencies.

  • chloe


    January 31st, 2010 at 10:04 PM

    could there be a vaccine for this? chloe

  • Rosie A.

    Rosie A.

    February 1st, 2010 at 2:30 AM

    Some disorders may span across generations but there has got to be something that can be done…?

  • lee M.

    lee M.

    February 1st, 2010 at 10:41 AM

    it would make sense if preventive measures are taken for kids of such parents immediately after birth…after all, prevention is better than cure.

  • Kayla


    February 1st, 2010 at 12:31 PM

    So much of this has to do with how well the parent handles his or her own mental health situation. In cases where the parents faithfully take their medicine and have the disorder under control I would think that there would be fewer preoblems popping up in their childre. If however they are irresponsible with the care that they give to themselves it is no wonder that there becomes a cycle of poor mental health for the family. Yes many of these things are very nature driven but you know that in some situations nurture also plays a huge role. One cannot be ruled out over the other.

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Title   Content   Author is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, or therapy. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding any mental health symptom or medical condition. Never disregard professional psychological or medical advice nor delay in seeking professional advice or treatment because of something you have read on