Bipolar Disorder can be difficult to diagnose, particularly in children, in part because it features symptoms that are also associated with much more common mental health disorders: the hopelessness associated with major depressive disorder; the inattention of ADHD; and the aggression of oppositional defiant disorder.
In his Grand Rounds presentation at the NYU Child Study Center, Eric Youngstrom, Ph.D., compares bipolar disorder to the mythical Greek monster chimera, which has the head of a lion and the tail of a serpent. Most of the time, if you see a lion’s head, it will belong to a lion, just as depressive symptoms generally point to depression. In looking at the range of a patient’s symptoms over time, a clinician may become aware of the chimera of bipolar disorder.
Dr. Youngstom spoke at the CSC on Oct. 14, 2011. The full title of his presentation is “Hunting Chimera: Separating Fact from Fiction about Pediatric Bipolar Disorder.” You can see his full lecture, above.
Below, in a short interview excerpt, Dr. Youngstrom talks about the chimera as a metaphor that can help us understand bipolar disorder.
In this video clip, Dr. Youngstom discusses how a very simple intervention known as life charting can help individuals with bipolar disorder and their doctors better understand their mood shifts, what causes them, and how they can be mitigated.
Dr. Youngstrom is Acting Director of the Center for Excellence in Research and Treatment of Bipolar Disorder, and Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. You can see more of the interview with him and other videos from the NYU Child Study Center's expert clinicians and Grand Rounds speakers at the NYU CSC YouTube channel.