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Keywords:

  • adolescent;
  • bipolar disorder;
  • ethnicity;
  • mania

Objective:  To compare symptom profiles of African-American and white adolescents with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

Method:  Adolescents, aged 12–18 years at their first psychiatric hospitalization, with a DSM-IV diagnosis of bipolar disorder, manic or mixed, were evaluated on measures of manic, depressive, and positive symptoms of psychosis. Ethnic differences in symptom profiles were examined using multivariate analysis of covariance, and specific symptoms contributing to the difference were analyzed.

Results:  Ethnic differences existed in manic and positive symptom profiles, but not depressive symptoms. Compared with the white cohort, African-American youths were diagnosed more frequently as having psychotic features, and had higher ratings for auditory hallucinations.

Conclusions:  Similar to adults, symptom expression in adolescent bipolar disorder may differ between ethnic groups. Future studies are needed to replicate these findings and explore possible explanations.