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Keywords:

  • attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder;
  • bipolar disorder;
  • Child Behavior Checklist;
  • comorbidities;
  • Parent–Young Mania Rating Scale

Background:  Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and bipolar disorder (BPD) in children are frequently comorbid conditions. Because the coexistence of ADHD and mania seriously complicates the course of the condition and the treatment of children, diagnosing or missing this comorbidity has important clinical implications. There are very few systematic studies on the subject in the literature and BPD in children is not recognized or studied in most countries other than the USA. We aimed to differentiate Turkish prepubertal children with ADHD from those with comorbid ADHD and BPD and compare their clinical characteristics.

Methods:  A total of 147 treatment- and drug-naïve children, aged 7 to 13 years, who had been consecutively referred to the ADHD clinic, were evaluated using the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-age Children–Present and Lifetime version (K–SADS–PL). Parents completed the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) 4–18 and the Parent–Young Mania Rating Scale (P–YMRS) prior to the clinical interview.

Results:  Twelve children (8.2%) had comorbid bipolar disorder (ADHD + BPD). The ADHD + BPD group had significantly higher rates of depressive disorders, oppositional defiant disorder, panic disorder and a family history of bipolar disorder compared with the ADHD group. The ADHD + BPD group had significantly more problems on the CBCL scale (anxiety/depression, social problems, thought problems, aggression, externalization, and total score) and on the P–YMRS (all items except for insight) compared with the ADHD group.

Conclusions:  We conclude that ADHD + BPD in Turkish children represents a clinical picture different to that of ADHD alone, in which the clinical characteristics resemble those of children reported in the literature. Further long-term follow-up studies are needed in larger clinical and community samples.