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David Baxter

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Study looks at bipolar youths

WASHINGTON, May 30, 2006 (UPI) -- A U.S. study shows youths with bipolar disorder misread facial expressions as hostile and show heightened neural reactions when focusing on neutral faces.

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Mental Health say their study provides some of the first clues to the underlying workings of the episodes of mania and depression that disrupt friendships, school, and family life in up to 1 percent of children.

Brain scans showed that the left amygdala, a fear hub, and related structures, activated more in youths with the disorder than in healthy youths when asked to rate the hostility of an emotionally neutral face, as opposed to a non-emotional feature, such as nose width.

The more patients misinterpreted the faces as hostile, the more their amygdala flared.

Such a face-processing deficit could help account for the poor social skills, aggression, and irritability that characterizes the disorder in children, suggest Drs. Ellen Leibenluft, Brendan Rich, Daniel Pine and colleagues

The study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
 

stargazer

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Tha'ts pretty interesting. I can't help but wonder how far this extends into adulthood as well.
 
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I'm almost 19 and was diagosed w/ bipolar disorder less than a year ago...I can still get very aggitated when someone looks at me...it doesn't have to be a mean look but I will still freak out and be like "what the heck are you looking at"...then I start getting paranoid that everyone is looking at me and it's b/c I'm not pretty enough or I'm wearing the wrong outfit and then I get mad b/c I think they are judging me and well you get the picture...I wonder how old the kids were in this study...
 

ThatLady

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My daughter is 26 and bipolar. She's well controlled and doing beautifully now, but I can remember when she had exactly this problem with misreading facial expressions. It was difficult for everyone, because it was hard to know what might set her off. A simple glance could, to her, be condemning. I'll have to ask her if she still has this problem. I haven't noticed it when I've been around her, but that doesn't mean she doesn't still feel it. I'll let you know what I find out. :)
 

stargazer

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My daughter is much the same way now, at age 20. She will read so much into simple facial expressions, it can be very stressful for those in her midst. People feel compelled to defend themselves, to insist that they are *not* really angry, that they *weren't* making fun of her, and so forth. And she almost never believes that they are telling the truth. At worst, she feels as though others are ganging up on her, that they have some kind of hidden agenda that they won't reveal.

I recall I was also like this at a younger age, though not so much later in life.
 

just mary

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I have a friend like that also. I've spent countless hours with him trying to tell him that so and so is not mad at him. But at the same time, he will totally misread someone who is truly angry at him. Now that I think of it, maybe he's just seeking negative attention.

Interesting article and it sheds some light on people I've known in the past.

Thanks :)
 

ThatLady

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Spoke with my daughter on the phone last night. She said she still gets the odd feeling, at times, but is more able to stop and think about it before reacting. She said it's a learning process, and she fully believes the time will come when she doesn't misinterpret the facial expressions of others at all. :)
 

stargazer

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I don't know how this relates to bipolar, but I do know that my daughter and I are similar in some ways. When I was her age, I was always regarded as the most "paranoid" among my friends, always thinking people were plotting something against me, and the like. She's sort of like that. But I think that as we grow older, we start to realize that the world doesn't revolve around us, and that in most cases it's unlikely that people would be investing so much energy on things pertaining to us alone. I think that the misinterpretation of facial expressions might be related to this--not seeing things at face value, because we are always looking for some greater, deeper meaning, even against the odds.
 

David Baxter

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I think it's primarily like the concept of "automatic thoughts" and "cognitive counters" in CBT. For many of us, as we get older, we get better at identifying our automatic thoughts and have more experience with determining that our automatic thoughts are often wrong or inaccurate, so that after a while we do a bit more reality checking before acting on the thoughts.
 

David Baxter

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I think it's primarily like the concept of "automatic thoughts" and "cognitive counters" in CBT. For many of us, as we get older, we get better at identifying our automatic thoughts and have more experience with determining that our automatic thoughts are often wrong or inaccurate, so that after a while we do a bit more reality checking before acting on the thoughts.
 

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