as with other psychiatric disorders, studies suggest that bipolar disorder may be relatively common among children and adults with autism. some studies have found that as many as 27 percent of those with autism also have symptoms of bipolar disorder. it’s particularly challenging to diagnose psychiatric disorders in individuals who have language impairments or intellectual disabilities – as do many of those with autism. the challenge is to distinguish symptoms of a mood disturbance from those of autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (adhd). in a study of children with autism (ages 7 to 17), we found that nearly a third had frequent episodes of “elevated mood.” just over 60 percent could be described as “very irritable.” just over half talked excessively. in our study, we found we could tease apart the symptoms of true bipolar disorder from those of autism by looking carefully at when the symptoms appeared and how long they lasted.
an example would be a teenager with autism who has always been high-energy, happy and socially intrusive. not surprisingly, the symptoms of bipolar disorder in someone with autism are likely to look different than they would in others. this is of particular concern with individuals who have communication difficulties, as they may not be able to alert caregivers to the side effects they’re experiencing. the atypical antipsychotics risperidone and aripiprazole are both fda-approved to treat irritability in children with autism ages 6 and older. editor’s note: specialists working within autism speaks autism treatment network are dedicated to combining cutting-edge research with the delivery of comprehensive “whole person” care for children and teenagers with autism. atn clinicians are also dedicated to sharing their autism expertise with pediatricians and other medical practitioners in their regions.
some autistic people may be mistakenly diagnosed as bipolar when their symptoms are really the result of autistic behaviors. a diagnosis may not be clear-cut, but you and a psychiatrist can work through your symptoms to determine if you have both bipolar disorder and autism. if you think you or a loved one may have both bipolar disorder and autism, it’s important to understand how the conditions appear together. the symptoms of comorbid bipolar disorder and autism are different than if either condition appeared by itself.
the goal of treatment for bipolar disorder is to stabilize moods and prevent broad shifts in mood. if other medications and interventions haven’t worked and the challenges are quite severe, autistic children may be prescribed one or more antipsychotic or mood-stabilizing medications. if you’re a parent of a child who has bipolar disorder and is also on the autism spectrum, know that you aren’t alone. you may be more likely to develop bipolar disorder if you have a family member with the condition. fear of harm (foh) refers to a subset of symptoms observed in some children with bipolar disorder.
as with other psychiatric disorders, studies suggest that bipolar disorder may be relatively common among children and adults with autism. some autistic people are more likely to exhibit signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder. they’re also more likely to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder than the bipolar disorder is a psychiatric illness, while autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder. to be diagnosed with autism,, .
bipolar disorder affects about 1 in 10 adults with autism spectrum disorder (asd). that rate is from three to six times greater than found in bipolar disorder is a brain disorder characterized by changes in energy levels, mood, and functioning. autism spectrum due to a lack of research, we don’t know if there are specific triggers for bipolar disorder in autistic people, or how many autistic people, .
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