Background: Bipolar Disorders (BD) in youth are a heterogeneous condition with different phenomenology, patterns of comorbidity and outcomes. Our aim was to explore the effects of gender; age at onset (prepubertal- vs. adolescent-onset) of BD; and elements associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Substance Use Disorder (SUD) comorbidities, severe suicidal ideation or attempts, and poorer response to pharmacological treatments.
Method: 117 youth (69 males and 57 females, age range 7 to 18 years, mean age 14.5 ± 2.6 years) consecutively referred for (hypo)manic episodes according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 54th ed (DSM 5) were included.
Results: Gender differences were not evident for any of the selected features. Prepubertal-onset BD was associated with higher rates of ADHD and externalizing disorders. SUD was higher in adolescent-onset BD and was associated with externalizing comorbidities and lower response to treatments. None of the selected measures differentiated patients with or without suicidality. At a 6-month follow up, 51.3% of the patients were responders to treatments, without difference between those receiving and not receiving a psychotherapy. Clinical severity at baseline and comorbidity with Conduct Disorder (CD) and SUD were associated with poorer response. Logistic regression indicated that baseline severity and number of externalizing disorders were associated with a poorer outcome.
Conclusions: Disentangling broader clinical conditions in more specific phenotypes can help timely and focused preventative and therapeutic interventions.