Healthy Kids Needed for a Study on Brain Development!

We are conducting a study on brain development, using MRI to study the structure and function of the brain. There is NO radiation in MRI.

We are looking for healthy families in which the parents and child have not received psychiatric diagnoses. The child should be between the ages of 8-17 years old.

Children will be: 

✓ Paid for their participation 

✓ Given pictures of their brain 

✓ Given a certificate from the University acknowledging their successful time volunteering in research 

✓ Given the gratification of knowing their participation may help other kids who are seriously ill 

If you are interested in participating in this research, please call (210) 450-8362 OR email


Dr. Roybal, I’m bipolar. I’ve been told that by everyone I know my whole life.

But what does that mean? What is bipolar disorder?

Many people use the term “bipolar disorder” to reflect people they know who switch emotions quickly, from happy to anger, or happy to sad, within minutes or an hour. Although this can occur in people with bipolar disorder, this quick mood dysregulation, as professionals often call it, does not define the illness. Sometimes people think they are bipolar because they feel they have these rapid emotional changes or sometimes they are told they are in passing.

So at one point is mood dysregulation called bipolar disorder? To be considered bipolar, you have to have mania, or one previous manic episode. Manic episodes are defined by either an elevated mood state with increased energy OR an irritable mood state with increase energy. If you don’t have either one of those, you do not have mania, and you would not have bipolar disorder.

“Ok… sometimes I’m really, really up and then I’m really irritable and every little thing annoys me… so does that mean I have bipolar disorder?”

Well, no, there are still some other criteria. These are –

  1. Decreased need for sleep
    • This is not just, “Oh it takes me forever to fall sleep or I am waking up a lot in the middle of the night.” This is when you only NEED 2-3 hours of sleep at night and you are NOT tired the next day. You can do this for several nights in a row and then inevitably at some point, whether it be a week later, a month later, or 10 months later, you crash and fall asleep for a long time.
  2. Increased distractibility
    • Think “squirrel!” in the Disney movie “UP” but it happened every few seconds/minutes.
  3. Grandiosity or Inflated self-esteem
    • “I’m the best! No one is as good as me at (insert activity here).” If extreme, these thoughts can be delusional. On the mild side, it can look like increased self-confidence.
  4. Hypersexuality or increased interest in sex, intimacy.
    • This can manifest in wearing more makeup, brighter, more revealing clothing, and on the extreme side hooking up with different partners in a short period of time.
  5. Racing thoughts or Flight of ideas
    • This is when thoughts are coming in to your mind so quickly you can’t sort them out or when you start talking about one topic, then don’t finish and move onto another topic that may or may not be completely unrelated. People cannot follow what you are saying.
  6. Increased volume and/or rate of speech
    • You talk so fast and/or so much people cannot interrupt you or understand what you are saying.
  7. Increase risk taking in pleasurable activities
    • This is when you might go on shopping sprees and spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on items you don’t need, or you become a dare devil and engage in dangerous physical activities


You have to have THREE (3) of the 7 symptoms above that must occur at the SAME TIME as an elevated mood with increased energy OR FOUR (4) of the 7 symptoms above if you have irritable mood with increased energy.

And none of these symptoms should have occurred during the use of medications, or drugs, including alcohol.

You do have to have these symptoms for a certain period of time to be diagnosed with different types or severity of bipolar disorder. See a psychiatrist in order to determine that.

Stay tuned for the next blog….

What does bipolar disorder look like in kids?

Dr. Roybal featured on KSAT Channel 12 news for her bipolar disorder research

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 or call 210-567-4875.