Psychotic symptoms in pediatric bipolar disorder

Mani N. Pavuluri, Ellen S. Herbener, John A. Sweeney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Background: There is under-recognition or misdiagnosis of pediatric bipolar disorder with psychotic features. It is of major public health importance to recognize psychosis in bipolar disorder. Method: Original research on phenomenological description of psychosis and external validators including family history, longitudinal course and treatment effects are systematically reviewed. Age differences, sampling, and interview methods of the studies on pediatric bipolar disorder that reported psychotic features are compared. Critical differentiating features between pediatric bipolar disorder and pediatric schizophrenia are summarized given the presence of overlapping psychotic features. Results: Prevalence of psychotic features in pediatric bipolar disorder ranged from 16 to 87.5% based on age and methodological differences. The most common psychotic features are mood congruent delusions, mainly grandiose delusions. Psychotic features appear in the context of affective symptoms in pediatric bipolar disorder as opposed to schizophrenia where psychotic symptoms are independent of them. Family history of affective psychosis aggregated in probands with bipolar disorder. Limitations: There is discrepancy in clinical appraisal of what constitutes psychosis and pediatric bipolar disorder, apart from the differences in methodology and nature of the samples. Conclusion: Clinicians must be vigilant in identifying psychosis in pediatric bipolar disorder, especially when there is a positive family history of psychosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-28
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of affective disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2004


  • Bipolar disorder
  • Child
  • Delusions
  • Diagnosis
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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