Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Identifying Teens' Risk of Bipolar Disorder

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Identifying Teens' Risk of Bipolar Disorder

Article excerpt

Young people with a known risk of bipolar disorder (but not yet showing signs of the condition) have clear and quantifiable differences in brain activity when compared to controls, according to researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and Black Dog Institute in Sydney, Australia.

"We found that the young people who had a parent or sibling with bipolar disorder had reduced brain responses to emotive faces, particularly a fearful face. This is an extremely promising breakthrough," says study leader Philip Mitchell, a UNSW professor.

"We know that bipolar is primarily a biological illness with a strong genetic influence, but triggers are yet to be understood," Mitchell said. "Being able to identify young people at risk will enable implementation of early intervention programs, giving them the best chance for a long and happy life."

Bipolar disorder involves extreme and often unpredictable fluctuations in mood. The mood swings and associated behaviors, such as aggression and severe depression, significantly impact day-to-day life, careers, and relationships. …

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