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Bipolar Disorder (Children and Adolescents)




Can ADHD mimic mania?


Hello and thank you for your excellent question. Although the diagnoses of bipolar disorder and ADHD do share some common symptoms (i.e., distractibility/inattention, increased talking/talking excessively, increased activity/always on the go and foolish-reckless behavior/impulsivity), the diagnosis of bipolar disorder also has symptoms that are specific to this condition and not related to ADHD (i.e., elevated mood, grandiosity, decreased need for sleep, and hypersexuality).

For the common symptoms to be counted as bipolar symptoms, they have to be greater than the usual ADHD levels of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity and associated with waxing and waning mood. It is also very common for children with bipolar disorder to also have the separate diagnosis of ADHD.

The only way to know whether someone has bipolar disorder, ADHD, both diagnoses, or any psychiatric illness is for that person to receive a comprehensive and detailed psychological assessment covering all the possible DSM-IV diagnoses.

Hope that answers your question. Best wishes.

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Response by:

Nicholas   Lofthouse, PhD Nicholas Lofthouse, PhD
Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University