According to Nemeth et al. (2011), pediatric mania is difficult to distinguish from childhood hyperactivity. Both share 3 common symptoms: distractibility, motoric hyperactivity, and talkativeness (Biederman, 2000). Oftentimes, children are referred from their pediatrician due to a lack of appropriate response to stimulant medication. Pediatricians have learned that merely raising the dose or changing the stimulant does not work. A thorough neuropsychological evaluation often reveals Bipolar Mania. They may have comorbid Bipolar Disorder and ADHD. This poster paper will examine measures that can assist in this important differential diagnosis as well as offer treatment options, including medication management.
This case study includes three pediatric patients diagnosed with Childhood Bipolar Disorder and ADHD. A comprehensive psychoeducational assessment was conducted for each of the patients, which resulted in this comorbid diagnosis.
One of the most helpful measures was the TOVA. When a child’s attention and impulsivity scores are normal, and response time and variability scores are abnormal, both on and off medication, that is an indication of a mood disorder (Nemeth et al., 2007). These children also performed poorly on measures of processing speed, and verbal learning and interference tasks (Henin et al., 2007). Measures of affect and personality were important diagnostically. A combination of Amantadine and either Clonidine HCL ER or Propranolol, as prescribed by a medical psychologist, were found to be effective in controlling the symptoms of this comorbid diagnosis.
An evaluation of children’s intellectual, attentional, behavioral, mood, and personality functioning is crucial for a differential diagnosis. In cases of comorbidity, ADHD and Childhood Bipolar Disorder, the sooner the child is on appropriate medications, the better. When just the surface diagnosis of ADHD is medicated, the outcome is often problematic. There may be a poor response to treatment and a higher rate of suicide.