Saturday, November 22, 2008

Comorbidity of Asperger's Syndrome and Bipolar Disorder

Treating comorbid mental disorders, especially in young people, can be very challenging. While I am not a huge fan of drugs (often diet can have some profound effects when adjusted properly), with bipolar teenagers drugs can be essential to creating the possibility of psychotherapeutic treatment.

For those who do not know, Asperger's is a form of autism n which people are highly structured in their behaviors (often rigidly so) and have trouble with acknowledging the feelings and needs of others (looks a lot like narcissism sometimes). These people often make great mathematicians and computer coders - anything that requires very structured thinking.

Here is Wikipedia's definition:

Asperger syndrome (also called Asperger's syndrome, Asperger's disorder, Asperger's or AS) is the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in which there is no general delay in language or cognitive development. Like other ASDs, it is characterized by difficulties in social interaction and restricted, stereotyped patterns of behavior and interests. Although not mentioned in standard diagnostic criteria for AS, physical clumsiness and atypical use of language are frequently reported.[1][2]

Most everyone knows about bipolar disorder, which was once known as manic depressive disorder.

Here is the abstract of an interesting new study.

Comorbidity of Asperger's syndrome and bipolar disorder

Michele Raja email and Antonella Azzoni email

Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health 2008, 4:26doi:10.1186/1745-0179-4-26

Published: 17 November 2008

Abstract (provisional)

Background and Objective. Asperger's Syndrome (AS) is a pervasive developmental disorder that is sometimes unrecognized, especially in the adult psychiatric setting. On the other hand, in patients with an AS diagnosis, comorbid psychiatric disorders may be unrecognized in the juvenile setting. The aim of the paper is to show and discuss some troublesome and complex problems of the management of patients with AS and comorbid Bipolar Disorder (BD).


The paper describes three patients affected by AS and bipolar spectrum disorders.

Results and conclusions

Mood stabilizers and 2nd generation antipsychotics were effective in the treatment of these AS patients with comorbid BD, while the use of antidepressants was associated with worsening of the mood disorder. It is of importance to recognize both the psychiatric diagnoses in order to arrange an exhaustive therapeutic program and to define specific and realistic goals of treatment.

The entire paper is Open Source and available as a provisional PDF.

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