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David Baxter

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Children of bipolar parents more creative
November 08, 2005

STANFORD, Calif. (United Press International) -- Stanford University School of Medicine scientists have shown for the first time that children of bipolar parents score high on creativity indices.

Researchers said a sample of children who either have or are at high risk for bipolar disorder, which was formerly called manic-depressive illness, score higher on a creativity index than so healthy children.

"I think it's fascinating," said Dr. Kiki Chang, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and co-author of the paper. "There is a reason that many people who have bipolar disorder become very successful, and these findings address the positive aspects of having this illness."

Dr.Terence Ketter, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and a study co-author, published a 2002 study showing healthy artists were more similar in personality to individuals with bipolar disorder -- the majority of whom were on medication -- than to healthy people in the general population.

Ketter said he believes bipolar patients' creativity stems from their mobilizing energy that results from negative emotion to initiate some sort of solution to their problems. "In this case, discontent is the mother of invention," he said.

The study appears in the November 2005 issue of the Journal of Psychiatric Research.
 

Brenda

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This is very interesting. My 16-year-old daughter is one of a kind. She is one of the most energetic young ladies I know. She is a very good artist. She can look at a picture and draw it. She is also musically inclined. She plays the flute and also sings. She has three jobs. At sixteen that is amazing. She is a waitress, a babysitter, and she cleans houses. She is involved in FFA, 4-H, and she does stats for all of the sports. I feel she has symptoms of a mood disorder. Everyone says it is her age. But I don't believe so. Some of it might be, but my son notices the mood changes and so do my parents. I want her to be evaluated, but she refuses to go. What can I do? I can't force her to go. I know I have an illness, and I see a psychiatrist once a month or more, depending on how I am feeling. I don't want her to end up like me. I have been dealing with my bi-polar, but it has been difficult.
 

David Baxter

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She's a 16 year old girl. She's almost expected to be energetic, involved in everything, and moody.

I know you are worried that she has inheritied your bipolar disorder aand it's true there is an increased risk for her and your son but the odds are still in her favor. For the moment, let her be a teenager and deal with teenager issues. If she does develop bipolar, you won't need to wonder if that's what's going on - you'll know that's what's going on.
 

stargazer

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What about my daughter? I'm not the only one who thinks she might be bipolar. Friends of hers come up to me often and ask me, "Is she bipolar?" This is only because her mood swings seem much more severe than would be warranted by circumstances. And my old psychiatrist told me she thought she was bipolar, too. She recommended she read a book called "An Unquiet Mind" which I think is about a bipolar woman. However, I wonder about the whole thing, whether either of us is bipolar, or if it's just the way we are. Anyway, my psychiatric evaluation (for myself) is on the 16th of June. I just got a card for it yesterday in the mail.
 

David Baxter

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I'm certainly not trying to claim that pediatric and adolescent bipolar disorder doesn't exist, stargazer. I'm really just saying three things:

1. whether we're talking about bipolar, ADHD, conduct disorder, or anything else, the first step is to clearly identify what is normal adolescent behavior and what goes beyond normal adolescent behavior

2. if a close relative has schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, the risk for other family members increases but is still well under 50% - what is likely is that there will be some evidence of a mood disorder or anxiety or ADD or something, reflecting the inherited biological-neurochemical vulnerability, but it wont necessarily be what the original family member has

3. when the symptoms are either ambiguous or relatively mild, it is better IMO to wait until they get to the point where the diagnosis is clear before jumping to a premature diagnosis and premature medication - these are still young growing bodies - if they need the medication, great - if not, you may be doing damage to the neurochemistry and/or endocrine system of that youth by jumping to conclusions
 

stargazer

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I wasn't thinking you were suggesting that adolescent bipolar disorder didn't exist. I was just throwing out some more-or-less personal data regarding myself and my daughter, who is actually already 20 years old. I personally would not have wanted her to start in with medication when she was only, say, 15. I think that a teenager is going through so many hormonal changes anyway, as you say, that it might not be a good idea to treat them medically for something like bipolar unless the diagnosis is actually certain.

Her mother, anyway, was radically opposed to all medicines, and it would never have happened. She went entirely for alternative cures and homeopathy and the like. The good news is that now my daughter has just qualified for MediCal and is going to receive treatment for certain hopefully minor physical problems. So she might be able to get a psychiatric evaluation, too. But I would think that's her choice.

If she *is* bipolar, I don't think her level of it interferes with her ability to work. It only seems to interfere with her social and family relationships.
 

David Baxter

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If she *is* bipolar, I don't think her level of it interferes with her ability to work. It only seems to interfere with her social and family relationships.

I think that's probaly the case for many, perhaps most people with bipolar.
 

stargazer

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I seem to recall reading somewhere that most people with bipolar are still able to work. Those closest to us (friends and family) are probably more likely to pick up on our bipolar traits than relatively distant co-workers.
 

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