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Expressed Emotion Among Parents of Youths with BD

Psychiatry Res; 2018 Dec; Millman, Weintraub, et al

Susceptibility to affective psychopathology may be an important contributor to the development of expressed emotion (EE) attitudes among parents of adolescents with bipolar disorder (BD), according to a recent study. Researchers examined past-week levels of emotional distress, lifetime affective diagnoses, and family histories of affective disorder among high- and low-EE parents of 86 adolescents with BD I or II who were recovering from an episode of depression or (hypo) mania. They found:

  • High EE parents endorsed higher concurrent levels of depression, anxiety, and anger/hostility than low EE parents, and reported a greater familial history of depression and BD.
  • No differences between high and low EE parents were found in concurrent levels of interpersonal sensitivity, lifetime rates of affective disorders, or familial loading of anxiety disorder.
  • Parents’ distress at the time of the EE assessment was the strongest correlate of EE.

Millman ZB, Weintraub MJ, Miklowitz DJ. Expressed emotion, emotional distress, and individual and familial history of affective disorder among parents of adolescents with bipolar disorder. Psychiatry Res. 2018;270:656-660. doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2018.10.054.