Objective: There is some evidence to suggest that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and juvenile bipolar disorder could be related. This is based on studies of comorbidity and some preliminary family study data. However, doubts continue to be raised about the relationship between the two disorders. This study examined the comorbidity of disruptive behavior disorders (DBD) that include ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and conduct disorder (CD) in juvenile bipolar disorder.
Method: Seventy-three subjects with onset of bipolar disorder at age 18 years or younger were evaluated using structured interviews (Missouri Assessment of Genetics Interview for Children, Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I disorders – Clinician Version, and Operational Criteria Checklist for Psychotic Disorders version 3.4). Information was collected from subjects as well as from their parents. Patients with comorbid DBD were compared with patients without DBD.
Results: Ten subjects (14%) had one or more comorbid DBD. ADHD, CD, and ODD were present in three (4%), two (3%), and eight (11%) subjects, respectively. Those with DBD had earlier onset of bipolar disorder and spent more time ill compared to those without DBD.
Conclusions: The rates of comorbid DBD in juvenile bipolar disorder are low. The study does not support a definite relationship between ADHD and juvenile bipolar disorder. Higher rates reported previously may be due to differing methods of subject ascertainment. Samples recruited from community and general psychiatric settings may help to clarify the relationship between bipolar disorder and ADHD.