September 30, 2009

Some may ‘outgrow’ bipolar disorders

Half of young patients may outgrow bipolar disorder by age 30, U.S. researchers suggest.

The Missouri University study, published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, was based on two large national surveys.

Study co-author Kenneth Sher and colleagues say 5.5 percent to 6.2 percent of people between the ages of 18-24 suffer from bipolar disorder, but only about 3 percent of people older than 29 do.

Young adults between the ages of 18-24 are going through significant life changes and social strain, which could influence both the onset and course of the disorder, Sher said in a statement.

The researchers also suggest the prevalence of the disorder could be affected by brain development -- particularly of the prefrontal cortex.

The maturing of the prefrontal cortex of the brain around 25 years of age could biologically explain the developmentally limited aspect of bipolar disorder, lead author David Cicero said.

Other researchers have found a similar pattern in young adults with alcohol or substance abuse disorders.