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The At-Risk Study: An Observational Longitudinal Study in Offspring of Parents with Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a severe, life-long illness characterized by recurring episodes of mania or hypomania, and depression. Evidence suggests that it is important to identify people at risk for developing bipolar disorder before they develop the full-blown illness.
 
Earlier attempts at determining who were at risk for developing bipolar disorder were based on either (hypo)manic symptoms, or on family history of bipolar disorder (mostly in first-degree relatives) given the high genetic loading of bipolar disorder shown in genetic family history studies.
 
Recent data indicate that disability associated with bipolar disorder begins increasingly at age 15 to 19 years and becomes increasingly severe up to the age range of 25 to 29 years, suggesting that the presence of psychosocial impairment is an additional dimension that can be used to identify patients who are likely to show a deteriorating course of illness over time.
 
In this observational study, 15- to 25-year-old children of parents with bipolar disorder will be followed up longitudinally every three months (either in the clinic or via telephone interviews) for up to 24 months. We will look at the mood symptoms over 24 months of two groups participants: (1) those with at least mild impairment in psychosocial functioning at the beginning of the study, and (2) those with no impairment.
 
Our goal is to test the hypothesis that having at least mild impairment at baseline in addition to a family history of bipolar disorder in parents is associated with more significant illness.

This study has received approval from: IRBMED  HUM00123615