Many sufferers of bipolar disorder and autism struggle with the same symptoms, so they often find themselves in a difficult position of being diagnosed with one or both disorders. This article discusses how to treat these overlapping conditions without having to worry about what will happen when the other is treated first.
“Treatment for autism psychosis” is a very important topic. There are many different treatments, but the most common one is cognitive behavioral therapy.
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A mood or anxiety condition, such as bipolar disorder, is quite frequent among people with autism.
Many of the characteristics and symptoms of autism and bipolar disease are similar. As a consequence, when both illnesses co-occur, it might be difficult to make a diagnosis.
When bipolar illness and autism coexist, the symptoms of either disease might become more severe. The dual diagnosis might result in more serious health issues and functioning issues.
Medications and behavioral therapies are often used to treat co-occurring autism and bipolar illness.
The Link Between Bipolar Disorder & Autism
Bipolar illness and autism are both heritable brain disorders that include brain differences.
Autism is a neurodevelopmental spectrum condition in which a person has difficulty socializing and communicating, as well as engaging in repetitive and restricting activities.
Bipolar disorder is a mood condition marked by significant mood fluctuations, which may include episodes of mania, depression, or both. The mood, energy, and activity levels, as well as the capacity to focus, are all affected by bipolar illness. It makes it difficult to operate in day-to-day life.
Bipolar illness, like autism, has no one known cause, although genetics and brain functioning and structure are believed to play a role in its prevalence. Recent research has shown a relationship between overlapping genes that may be implicated in bipolar illness and autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). This suggests a genetic relationship between bipolar illness and autism.
Bipolar illness and autism may co-occur with various conditions, including each other.
Comorbidity Diagnosis Challenges
Comorbid autism and bipolar disease have historically proved difficult to diagnose. This is partly due to the fact that one condition might have overlapping symptoms that can disguise the symptoms of the other. Furthermore, autism is usually diagnosed in infancy, while bipolar illness usually appears in late adolescence or early adulthood.
Symptoms of bipolar illness and autism that overlap often worsen throughout adolescence. They may include the following:
The presence of these symptoms in a kid does not always imply that he or she has bipolar disorder. Because many of the symptoms of bipolar illness are similar to those of autism, it is easy to misdiagnose teenage autistic children. To detect real overlap, certain assessments and criteria should be applied.
When Bipolar Disorder & Autism Overlap
There is a lot of data out there on the prevalence of comorbid autism and bipolar disorder. According to some research, up to 30% of persons with autism also have bipolar illness. Others estimate a comorbidity rate of 7%. Similarly, research suggest that persons with bipolar I illness are about half of the time autistic.
Symptoms of bipolar disorder in people with autism are typically different from those in people with bipolar illness alone. Depressive episodes may be more severe, resulting in a higher risk of suicide, for example.
Manic episodes may not always entail the same amount of psychosis as in those without autism, but they are nevertheless dangerous. They often result in injury, accidents, aggression, and difficulty in daily living.
Typical features of a bipolar manic episode in someone with autism include:
- Talking that is nonstop, fast, and loud.
- Sleep quality has suddenly deteriorated.
- Increased ritualistic and repeated behaviour.
- Excessive pace is a problem.
- Impulsivity, risk-taking, and violence are all on the rise.
- Obsessions will be given more attention.
- Delusions of grandeur and inflated self-esteem
Discuss your worries with your child’s doctor if you suspect overlapping bipolar illness and autism.
Medications for Bipolar Disorder in Children with Autism
There are no medications licensed particularly for the treatment of autism, however there are many for the treatment of bipolar disorder.
Because several of these drugs interact differently in persons who have bipolar illness and autism, they should be used with caution. Antidepressants, for example, have been shown to exacerbate bipolar disorder in people with autism, but mood stabilizers and second-generation antipsychotics have been shown to be helpful therapy options.
Lithium is one of the gold-standard drugs for bipolar illness treatment, but it comes with a lot of potentially hazardous side effects. People with autism often struggle to communicate properly. This may make using a drug like this difficult if persons with autism are unable to communicate their symptoms to a caregiver or doctor.
For treating comorbid bipolar illness and autism, mood-stabilizing anti-seizure drugs such valproic acid are frequently a preferable option. Irritability in children with autism may be treated with atypical antipsychotic medicines such aripiprazole and risperidone. To control symptoms, low-dose antipsychotic medicines are often taken with a mood stabilizer.
The primary line of therapy for bipolar illness is to manage potentially life-threatening manic and depression episodes. This entails balancing emotions. The best line of action is frequently a mix of drugs and therapy.
Inquire with your doctor about the benefits and drawbacks of any drugs that could be utilized in your treatment plan.
Interventions in Behavioral health
Medications can help with the extreme symptoms of bipolar disorder, but they aren’t enough on their own. They should be used in conjunction with therapies and Interventions in Behavioral health.
It’s critical to have an appropriate diagnosis for comorbid bipolar illness and autism since each disease requires different therapy. When one of the illnesses overlaps, treatment for one of them may be less successful.
Interventions in Behavioral health for comorbid bipolar disorder and autism can include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a kind of treatment (CBT). Understanding how your ideas and emotions are linked to your actions is the goal of this sort of therapy. CBT aids in the development of greater self-awareness. It also boosts self-esteem and aids in the development of coping and emotional regulating abilities.
- Theraputics for families. These treatments may assist whole families learn how to support one another, as well as a family member who has bipolar illness and autism.
- Education. By reducing the anxiety that comes with uncertainty, learning about each illness and what to anticipate may help to minimize the intensity of symptoms.
- Behavior analysis in practice (ABA). This treatment may be tailored to the needs of each person. ABA aims to reward beneficial behaviors while also assisting in the reduction of bad ones.
Because each individual is unique, no two treatment programs will be identical. Members of the intervention team will collaborate closely with one another, as well as with parents and caregivers, to develop a treatment plan that is most beneficial for the person.
Providing Support for Children With Co-Occurring Disorders
Bipolar disorder usually appears later in puberty, however it commonly appears sooner in children with autism. Early intervention for both autism and mood disorders might help to alleviate symptoms.
Autism interventions might begin with infants or toddlers. They include a number of techniques for improving communication and social skills, developing healthy stress coping strategies, and improving emotional management abilities.
The greatest thing you can do for your kid is to be alert of changes in behavior and mood, as well as changes in sleeping and feeding habits, and to discuss your concerns with your child’s doctor as soon as possible so that an accurate diagnosis can be established. Early diagnosis may lead to more targeted therapy and a better long-term prognosis.
Managing Bipolar Disorder & Autism in Adults
Bipolar illness may cause severe actions in autistic teens and adults, putting the individual’s and others’ safety at danger. It may also lead to increased social isolation, disengagement, and friendship issues. Comorbid bipolar illness and autism may severely limit a person’s capacity to carry out everyday duties and, as a result, participate in society.
Help is available in the form of education, medicine, therapy, and support groups. It’s crucial to be aware of the signs of both conditions in order to manage them. When a person is better able to comprehend why they are feeling and behaving the way they do, they are also better able to regulate and control their emotions and actions.
Healthy social outlets may be found in support and social skills groups. They may teach coping skills, as well as ways for managing everyday life, building beneficial habits, and learning and applying them.
Organizations & Support Resources
There are several services and organizations dedicated to assisting persons affected by autism and bipolar disease. Suicide and crisis lines should be kept on hand for safety reasons, educational websites may give a wealth of information, and many organizations sponsor local support groups.
Here are some links to websites that might help you get information and support:
- SAMHSA National Hotline: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration operates a 24-hour confidential and free helpline (SAMHSA). Families seeking treatment for mental health issues might get referrals and information from them.
- The Depression and Bipolar Assistance Alliance is a nationwide organization with over 200 local chapters where individuals may get information and support about bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses. They also provide online help 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as well as a wealth of additional resources.
- Autism Speaks is a resource for those who have been affected by autism. They provide online education and information, as well as contact information for local support groups.
Bipolar Disorder is a mental illness that affects both men and women (January 2020). The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is a government-funded research (NIMH).
Familial Bipolar Disorder Exome Sequencing (2016). JAMA Psychiatry is a journal published by the American Medical Association.
According to a new study, bipolar disorder has a genetic link to autism. (May 15, 2015) Health Care at the University of Iowa.
Is There a Link Between Autism and Bipolar Disorder? (May 14, 2014) Autism Speaks is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about
Longitudinal Bipolar Disorder in Children and Adolescents with High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder. (Updated October 2016). The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’s journal.
Bipolar I Disorder: Autistic and Schizotypal Traits and Global Functioning (January 2017). The Journal of Affective Disorders is a publication dedicated to the study of mood disorders.
Prevalence and Clinical Correlates of Subthreshold Autism Spectrum Disorder in Bipolar Disorder. (Updated November 2019) Research in Psychiatry
Comorbid Autism Spectrum Disorder and Pediatric Bipolar Disorder: Characteristics (April of this year). Psychiatry Consultant.
Comorbidity of Asperger’s Syndrome and Bipolar Disorder. (November 2008). Clinical Practice & Epidemiology in Mental Health.
Autism and bipolar disorder may often overlap, according to clinical research. (October 2013). Spectrum News is a publication that covers a wide range of
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline may be reached at 1-800-273-8255. Administration for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA).
There is a national helpline (April 2020). Administration for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA).
The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people with depression and bipolar disorder.
NAMI is a mental health organization. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a non-profit organization dedicated to (NAMI).
Information and assistance (2020). Autism Speaks is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about
Autism and bipolar disorder are two different conditions that often overlap. There is no known cure for either condition, but there are treatments that can help manage the symptoms of each condition. Reference: autism and schizophrenia dual diagnosis.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the chances of having 2 child with autism?
A: The chances of having a child with autism are actually quite high, so it is not unlikely that you may have 2 autistic children.
What are the symptoms of ADHD and autism overlap?
A: ADHD and autism overlap when the symptoms of one are very similar to those of the other. This is most likely due to something called genetic co-morbidity, which means that theres a specific gene or genes that cause both conditions.
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Janice is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Special Education. She also holds a Master of Science in Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) from Queen’s University, Belfast. She has worked with and case managed children and youth with autism and other intellectual and/or developmental disabilities in home and residential setting since 2013.