The clinical phenotypes of juvenile bipolar disorder: Toward a validation of the episodic-chronic-distinction

Gabriele Masi, Giulio Perugi, Cristina Toni, Stefania Millepiedi, Maria Mucci, Nicoletta Bertini, Hagop S. Akiskal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Recent research has addressed the issue of subtyping juvenile bipolar disorder (JBD). Accordingly, we set out to find out, in a naturalistic sample of bipolar children and adolescents with mania and mixed mania, whether the most useful subtyping should be based on clinical features (elated vs. irritable) or course (episodic vs. chronic). Methods: We studied 136 patients, 81 male patients (59.6%) and 55 female patients (40.4%), mean age 13.5 ± 2.9 years, meeting the DSM-IV diagnosis of bipolar disorder, assessed by a structured clinical interview (Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children-Present and Lifetime Version [K-SADS-PL]). Results: Regarding course, 77 patients (56.6%) had an episodic course and 59 patients (43.4%) had a chronic course. Patients with chronic course were significantly younger, had an earlier onset of JBD, and presented a more frequent comorbidity with disruptive behavior disorders. According to the prevalent mood disturbance, 75 patients (55.1%) showed an elated and 61 patients (44.9%) showed an irritable mood. Elated mood was more frequent in patients with episodic course, whereas irritable mood was more frequent in the patients with chronic course. Conclusions: These findings suggest that chronic versus episodic course may be a putative differential feature. Further validation of such a distinction would require prospective studies, temperament evaluation, gender and neurobiologic approaches, and differential psychopharmacologic assignment and response.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)603-610
Number of pages8
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2006


  • Adolescents
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Children
  • Course
  • Mania
  • Phenotype
  • Subgrouping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry


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