Precursors of self-reported subclinical hypomania in adolescence: A longitudinal general population study

Louise Gunhard Nielsen*, Martin Køster Rimvall, Jim van Os, Frank Verhulst, Charlotte Ulrikka Rask, Anne Mette Skovgaard, Else Marie Olsen, Pia Jeppesen

*Corresponding author for this work

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Symptoms of subclinical hypomania (SHM) are common in the general population of adolescents and young adults. SHM are most often transient yet might be risk markers of later bipolar disorder. The current study aimed to assess the clinical correlates of SHM at age 11 in the general population, examine the continuity of SHM from age 11-age 16 and explore the clinical precursors of age 16 SHM. As part of the Copenhagen Child Cohort 2000, 1,632 preadolescents participated in the examination of SHM and various clinical correlates at age 11, 893 were re-assessed for SHM at age 16 years. At age 11, SHM, psychotic experiences and depressive symptoms were assessed by semi-structured psychopathological interviews. Furthermore, the participants were diagnostically assessed by the Development and Well-Being Assessment and interviewed about sleep length. At age 16, SHM was assessed by self-report, using the Hypomania Checklist-32. Cannabis use occurring at age 15 or earlier was assessed at age 16. At age 11, SHM was associated with depressive disorders (Relative Risk [RR] = 2.96 [95% CI 1.26–6.96]), interview-based depressive symptoms (RR = 9.22 [5.93–14.34]), neurodevelopmental disorders (RR = 2.94 [1.66–5.20]), psychotic experiences (RR = 4.51 [2.90–7.01]) and insufficient sleep (RR = 2.10 [1.28–3.43]. In the longitudinal analyses, age 16 SHM was preceded by age 11 SHM (RR = 1.89 [1.02–3.49]), psychotic experiences (RR = 2.06, [1.28–3.33]), emotional disorders (RR = 1.77, [1.02–3.09]) and cannabis use (RR = 3.14, [1.93–5.10]), after mutual adjustment and adjustment for sex, and sociodemographic factors. In conclusion, age 11 SHM was statistically significantly associated with other types of psychopathology in cross-sectional analyses and showed some continuity with later self-reported SHM at age 16. Particularly early psychotic experiences and cannabis use stood out as independent precursors of self-reported SHM and might constitute important risk markers for the development of future SHM and bipolar disorder. An important potential caveat of the current study includes the self-report assessment of SHM.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0253507
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6 June
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2021

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Copyright: © 2021 Nielsen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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