Study looks at ADHD treatment in teens at risk for bipolar disorder

October 19, 2016, University of Cincinnati

A study at the University of Cincinnati (UC) will look at brain changes in adolescents with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, known as ADHD, before and after treatment with medication.

Researchers at UC will use neuroimaging ( or MRI) to examine the effects of standard treatment for ADHD (a psychostimulant medication, like Adderall) on brain structure and function in adolescents with a first-degree relative with bipolar disorder.

Symptoms of ADHD can include hyperactivity, fidgeting, trouble focusing or the need to get up frequently—behaviors like these that may have a negative impact at home, school or in social environments.

"Deficits in attention during childhood and early adolescence frequently precede the emergence of bipolar disorder in youth who have a family member with bipolar disorder," says a lead researcher of the study Robert McNamara, PhD, professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience and director of the Lipidomics Research Program. McNamara is a co-principal investigator for the study along with Melissa DelBello, MD, Dr. Stanley and Mickey Kaplan Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at the UC College of Medicine and co-director of the Mood Disorders Center.

"Because youth at risk for bipolar disorder often initially present with ADHD, they are commonly prescribed a psychostimulant medication, and it is presently unknown whether this increases risk for precipitating the onset of bipolar disorder. By studying early in response to psychostimulant treatment, we will develop a better understanding of how this standard ADHD treatment may affect high-risk youth differently," says McNamara.

This type of research study can help inform treating physicians, explains McNamara; whether an ADHD patient is at risk for developing bipolar disorder may warrant closer monitoring following a prescription of a psychostimulant, or a different treatment strategy altogether.

Another goal of the study is to investigate whether deficiencies exhibited by youth at high-risk for bipolar disorder influence brain changes in response to psychostimulant medications.

"Omega-3 fatty acids, present primarily in fish, have been found to play a crucial role in brain development," says McNamara. "Previous research has shown that adolescents at a high risk for exhibit low levels of omega-3 fatty acids, and that low omega-3 levels can lead to a different behavioral response to psychostimulants."

Those enrolled in the study will receive two MRI scans and evaluations every two weeks over the course of the 12-week study.

Explore further: Bipolar adolescents continue to have elevated substance use disorder risk as young adults

More information: For information about participating in the study, please contact Laura McLaughlin at laura.mclaughlin@uc.edu or call 513-558-6205.

Related Stories

Bipolar adolescents continue to have elevated substance use disorder risk as young adults

August 30, 2016
A follow up to a previous study finding an association between adolescent bipolar disorder and the incidence of cigarette smoking and substance use disorder finds that risk was even greater five years later, particularly ...

Kids with bipolar disorder more likely to abuse drugs, alcohol: study

September 16, 2016
(HealthDay)—For some teens with bipolar disorder, the risk that they will abuse alcohol and drugs may increase as they get older, a new study suggests.

Study details risk factors for substance use disorders after manic episode

July 22, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Adolescents with bipolar disorder are more likely to develop substance use disorders than adolescents without psychiatric disorders. Now, researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) have identified ...

Brain patterns in ADHD and bipolar disorder

November 10, 2015
Researchers identify unique and shared brain patterns in ADHD and bipolar disorder, which could aid diagnosis and treatment in the future.

Adolescent brain develops differently in bipolar disorder

June 1, 2015
In adolescents with bipolar disorder, key areas of the brain that help regulate emotions develop differently, a new study by Yale School of Medicine researchers shows.

Lower availability of omega-3 fatty acids associated with bipolar disorder

November 25, 2015
People with bipolar disorder have lower levels of certain omega-3 fatty acids that cross the blood-brain barrier than people who do not, according to researchers from Penn State College of Medicine and the National Institutes ...

Recommended for you

Suicide risk in abused teen girls linked to mother-daughter conflict

October 18, 2018
Teenage girls who were maltreated as children are more likely to entertain suicidal thoughts if the relationship with their mother is poor and the degree of conflict between the two of them high.

Study shows how bias can influence people estimating the ages of other people

October 17, 2018
A trio of researchers from the University of New South Wales and Western Sydney University has discovered some of the factors involved when people make errors in estimating the ages of other people. In their paper published ...

Infants are more likely to learn when with a peer

October 16, 2018
Infants are more likely to learn from on-screen instruction when paired with another infant as opposed to viewing the lesson alone, according to a new study.

Researchers use brain cells in a dish to study genetic origins of schizophrenia

October 16, 2018
A study in Biological Psychiatry has established a new analytical method for investigating the complex genetic origins of mental illnesses using brain cells that are grown in a dish from human embryonic stem cells. Researchers ...

Income and wealth affect the mental health of Australians, study shows

October 16, 2018
Australians who have higher incomes and greater wealth are more likely to experience better mental health throughout their lives, new research led by the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre has found.

Study suggests biological basis for depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances in older adults

October 15, 2018
UC San Francisco researchers, in collaboration with the unique Brazilian Biobank for Aging Studies (BBAS) at the University of São Paulo, have shown that the earliest stages of the brain degeneration associated with Alzheimer's ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.