By Jessie Degollado - Reporter
Posted: 9:34 PM, August 22, 2016Updated: 10:44 PM, August 22, 2016
SAN ANTONIO - For its study on bipolar disorder, the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio is recruiting children and adolescents between the ages of 8 and 17 if their parents already have the manic-depressive illness.
Being that it is usually inherited, Dr. Donna Roybal, assistant professor of psychiatry said, “We can follow family members who have bipolar disorder knowing that we can then assess the risk.” She said if the parent has not been diagnosed, but has mood swings, and their child is anxious, her team “will evaluate the parent and diagnose them as appropriate.”
She said as part of the study, she also will work with healthy young people for comparison.
Roybal said the earlier doctors are able to diagnose the condition, the sooner the patient can treated. She said otherwise, they risk mood swings, irrational behavior, suicide and drug use. “But what we’re trying to do is, we can recognize it even earlier so they don’t even get there,” Roybal said.
District Judge Laura Parker at the Bexar County Juvenile Justice Center said more than half the cases she sees involve some sort of mental health interventions, but only about between 4 to 7 percent are bipolar.
“They have a lot of mood changes, mood swings,” Parker said. “In court, everyone behaves when they get in front of me.”
Parker said she welcomes Roybal’s study and the findings it might produce. She said otherwise, “It can affect kids in a way that either ends in suicide or they end up in the legal system.” But Parker said that if they do, they will get the diagnosis and treatment they need, working closely with UTHSC.
“We really try to address those needs so they don’t become that repeat offender or graduates into the adult system,” Parker said.
Roybal said those who want to be part of the study can contact or email her team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 210-567-4875.