Physical and Sexual Abuse and Early-Onset Bipolar Disorder in Youths Receiving Outpatient Services: Frequent, but Not Specific

Tina Du Rocher Schudlich, Eric A. Youngstrom, Maria Martinez, Jennifer KogosYoungstrom, Kelly Scovil, Jody Ross, Norah C. Feeny, Robert L. Findling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The objective of this study was to determine if physical and sexual abuse showed relationships to early-onset bipolar spectrum disorders (BPSD) consistent with findings from adult retrospective data. Participants (N = 829, M = 10.9 years old ± 3.4 SD, 60 % male, 69 % African American, and 18 % with BPSD), primarily from a low socio-economic status, presented to an urban community mental health center and a university research center. Physical abuse was reported in 21 %, sexual abuse in 20 %, and both physical and sexual abuse in 11 % of youths with BPSD. For youths without BPSD, physical abuse was reported in 16 %, sexual abuse in 15 %, and both physical and sexual abuse in 5 % of youths. Among youth with BPSD, physical abuse was significantly associated with a worse global family environment, more severe depressive and manic symptoms, a greater number of sub-threshold manic/hypomanic symptoms, a greater likelihood of suicidality, a greater likelihood of being diagnosed with PTSD, and more self-reports of alcohol or drug use. Among youth with BPSD, sexual abuse was significantly associated with a worse global family environment, more severe manic symptoms, a greater number of sub-threshold manic/hypomanic symptoms, greater mood swings, more frequent episodes, more reports of past hospitalizations, and a greater number of current and past comorbid Axis I diagnoses. These findings suggest that if physical and/or sexual abuse is reported, clinicians should note that abuse appears to be related to increased severity of symptoms, substance use, greater co-morbidity, suicidality, and a worse family environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)453-463
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Volume43
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2015

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Children
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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