Childhood Trauma Linked to Bipolar Diagnosis, Symptoms


Research on a sample of 587 patients with DSM-IV defined bipolar disorder finds that an earlier age at onset of bipolar illness – along with suicide attempts, rapid cycling, and an increased number of depressive episodes – each had highly significant associations with childhood trauma. Emotional and sexual abuse together predicted a lower age of onset and suicide attempts, while sexual abuse was the strongest predictor of rapid cycling. The authors conclude “Our results demonstrate consistent associations between childhood trauma and more severe clinical characteristics in bipolar disorder. Further, they show the importance of including emotional abuse as well as the more frequently investigated sexual abuse when targeting clinical characteristics of bipolar disorder.”

Abstract →

Etain, B., Aas, M., Andreassen, O., Lorentzen, S.; Childhood Trauma Is Associated With Severe Clinical Characteristics of Bipolar Disorders. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 2013;74(10):991–998

Of further interest:

Childhood trauma link to bipolar symptoms strengthened (Medwire News)

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. My belief, based on my experience, is that it’s likely there is a link between sexually abused children and bipolar because the abused children are initially having the signs of abuse misdiagnosed as ADD, ADHD, or bipolar. And then the children are medicated with drugs that cause the serious bipolar / schizophrenia symptoms.

    Rather than labeling abused children, and torturing them with drugs. A much more beneficial to society approach to helping an abused child is to get the child molester in jail, and provide some semblance of justice for the child. And lots of loving, hugging, attention, care, and respect (and NO stigmatizing and drugging) can allow a sexually molested child to heal and become the valedictorian of his class. Kudos to my sweet child who survived the unthinkable, and thank God I didn’t allow the psychiatric industry to get their grubby hands on him.

    But I hadn’t realized 12 years ago that the psychiatrists profit by colluding to keep child molesters on the streets, because the child molesters bring the therapists in easy targets to be misdiagnosed for profit. My former therapist’s medical records indicate I was misdiagnosed and maltreated based on a list of lies and gossip from the people who harmed my child. Psychiatry is organized crime, is right.

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    • Why does this kid want to run to Mexico ????


      Hi! I’m Sarah. I have 5 amazing daughters with various health issues. My 11 year old daughter has been having a lot of trouble with anxiety and depression and some other symptoms for the past several months. She has been seeing a psychiatrist and has been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and depressive disorder NOS. Several years ago she was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder and still struggles with that. It is suspected that she might have aspergers, but she has not been diagnosed for that. The psychiatrist she is seeing wants to get the other mental health stuff under control and see whats left… She suspects that she has an underlying mood disorder and highly suspects bipolar. I have to admit, I agree with her. The signs and symptoms are definitely there. She also has epilepsy. At her last appointment a week ago she was put on Remeron to see if that would help. She also takes Lamictal for seizures which the psychatrist said she is taking a higher dose of that then she would be taking if she was taking it for bipolar disorder…and its obviously not doing the trick itself. But because it controls her seizures so well, we can’t just stop it and try something else. She said it also limits which other medications she can try with her. So, we’re going to try the Remeron and see if it helps and go from there. She mentioned possibly adding Abilify if the Remeron doesn’t do the trick. Its only been a week, but so far we haven’t seen any improvement. We’ve actually seen a new symptoms…she has pulled out almost all of her eyelashes. She pinches herself and pulls her hair as well, but she has been doing those things…mainly when she’s mad or frustrated. The eyelash pulling just started. She has slept better the last few days, so that’s good. She has periods where she only sleeps 1-2 hours at night for days. She definitely has major ups and downs and the tend to fluctuate quickly. She has been very depressed quite a bit lately and has said she thinks about hurting herself. She says she thinks everyone would be better off without her and no one loves her. So far she has not had any suicidal thoughts. When she says thinks about leaving everyone and we ask her what she means she says she thinks we would be happier if she ran off somewhere and never came back…but not to mexico because she doesn’t like salsa… She has anxiety attacks pretty frequently as well. She is starting middle school in a week and a half and is absolutely freaked out about it. I’ve tried to get in touch with the school counselors to discuss things with them before school starts, but so far I haven’t been able to talk to anyone. I was told that they will not be in the office until next week. They are having a orientation tomorrow though, so I’m hoping I can talk to someone and set up a time to talk with them more then. To say I’m overwhelmed is an understatement. I want to do the best I can for her, but I don’t know how. I feel like I don’t know how to parent her at all anymore. Its so frustrating. And she has 4 sisters (1 older, 3 younger) who don’t really understand it either. For the longest time I was in denial I guess. I KNEW something wasn’t right and put off getting her help…I guess because I fell victim to the social stigma surrounding mental health issues. Now I have so much guilt about that. I know she can’t help it. She’s an awesome kid and it breaks my heart to see her struggling so much. She does not have many friends at all and is very socially awkward. The older she gets the more obvious it is that she definitely struggles socially. She doesn’t seem to know what’s appropriate and what’s not. She seems to be lacking a filter and just says and does whatever pops in her head. She has done great in school academically and is very smart. This past year was awful though. She was bullied and has gotten to the point where she does not enjoy school at all. She would have meltdowns pretty much daily after school because she was so overwhelmed at school. She started getting in trouble towards the end of the school year because she seems to loose that impulse control at times. I’m so worried about school this coming year. I want to help her but don’t really even know where to start.

      Anyway, sorry for rambling on so much. I’m glad to have found this forum!

      Reminds me of that scene in the movie Forest Gump,

      “Dear God, make me a bird. So I could fly far. Far far away from here.”

      Watch the scene: (40 seconds)

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  2. So I was talking to my friend who is diagnosed with Bipolar the other day, just a quick chat in the street on the way to work. And I recounted what I knew about him, saying that every time he had a breakdown and went manic there were awful things going on in his life.

    We discussed a few precipitating factors in his life and then he just casually dropped into conversation that his father was violent.

    So I had got to know more about my friend in 5 minutes in the street than all the service providers he had come into contact with him had found out in about 20 years.

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  3. This is the most vile, disgusting, psychopathic, vicious piece of garbage that I’ve ever read for reasons I’ve cited many times on this web site.

    To redefine child, domestic, work and other abuse perpetrated by psychopaths, malignant narcissists and other evil people like biopsychiatrists as bipolar is so evil, vicious, cruel, victim blaming, predatory, exploitative and totally lacking in any and all conscience, it boggles my mind.

    The psychopaths of biopsychiatry have known their misdiagnosed abuse trauma victims have been on to them for a long time for misdiagnosing them with bipolar, ADHD, paranoia, delusions and other pernicious, life destroying stigmas to push their lethal drugs per Dr. Carole Warshaw, Dr. Judith Herman and many, many others. So now, these despicable, corrupt people are trying to redefine reality by pretending that abuse, trauma symptoms are the same as bipolar or really the formerly very rare manic depressive illness, which is a total pathetic farce. As I’ve said elsewhere, I had noticed this dirty trick of redefining bipolar in the DSM with actual trauma symptoms typical of abuse, rape, combat and other suffering and going so far as to include borderline (insult stigma for abused, traumatized women) in the new bipolar garbage can stigma. Those like Nassir Ghaemi are trying to stigmatize everyone on the planet with this vile bipolar insult so they can poison/brain damage one and all with impunity to continue biopsychiatry’s fascist eugenics/euthanasia agenda.

    So, as far as I am concerned, this like all the other articles pretending that so called bipolar was really abuse related trauma all along is just more of the same of what we can always expect from the psychopaths of biopsychiatry with their never ending lies, fraud and predation on the vulnerable they continue to abuse, exploit, invalidate and destroy with impunity while aiding and abetting their fellow abusers in power.

    Anyone going along with this travesty of justice has no conscience whatsoever all too typical of the mental death profession professing nothing but lies and total destruction of all those they prey on and destroy as much as they can.

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  4. I have provided tons of evidence and resources by many experts showing how abuse, trauma victims are routinely MISDIAGNOSED as bipolar, ADHD, delusional, paranoid and many other grossly dishonest, incompetent stigmas that do huge, irrevocable harm to the targets. Here is just one of many of the sources I have provided to fight this despicable fraud of pretending that bipolar was abuse related trauma all along when the lying biopsychiatrists have been really saying bipolar was some genetic defect having nothing to do with environment. The following is an excerpt from The Encyclopedia of Domestic Violence stressing how abused women and children are routinely MISDIAGNOSED with bipolar and drugged, which is the worse thing that can be done to them.

    Here is another article exposing that the so called rise in bipolar is a myth brought about by constant bogus expansion of what used to be a very rare problem people suffered temporarily and usually recovered from fully:

    Here is another article citing disease mongering as one of the big reasons for gross over/misdiagnosis of bogus, invented bipolar thanks to the likes of Robert Spitzer and Allen Frances having voted in this plague on humanity in their predatory DSM III and IV:

    Dr. Peter Breggin here exposes how iatrogenic harm of biopsychiatry’s toxic, useless drugs for typical life problems often lead to bogus bipolar stigmas due to the harmful drugs effects that accelerate with the addiction of each new drug to deal with the bad effects of a prior drug creating a lethal cocktail:

    Dr. David Healy also blames disease mongering with the huge number of bogus bipolar stigmas:

    Great article on the bipolar bamboozle to push more lethal atypical poison neuroleptics:

    It gets so tiresome dealing with such mafia like psychopathic criminals per Dr. Peter Gøtzsche in his latest article on the top of the front page of MIA when they change their so called science, facts and claims as they do their socks on a daily basis.

    Last but not least, here is Dr. Carole Warshaw, Psychiatrist and Domestic Violence Expert, urging psychiatrists to ask about domestic violence instead of MISDIAGNOSING it as bipolar, delusions, paranoia, etc. and causing huge harm to the abused women and children.

    I wish MIA would not post such vile, dishonest, offensive articles because it is such obvious disease mongering fraud that can only continue to add insult to injury and add to the huge number of lives already destroyed by the vicious, pernicious bipolar fad fraud.

    Here is Dr. Fred Baughman, Neurologist, on the great bipolar fad fraud or epidemic with no disease:

    DSM: Letting Go of the Big Lie:

    And finally, we have the witty bipolar babble web site to help those of us constantly assaulted with this literal Tower of Babel to ensure no real honesty or communication can occur:

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    • Awesome post. Nice anger .

      Were you reading “MDJunction Parents of Bipolar Children” ?

      It’s rough to read, you want to reach through the screen and beat some sense into these “parents” who drug the hell out of there children and then spend countless hours doing hundreds of posts convincing other parents its the right thing to do while there own kid just keeps getting sicker !

      That one thread I made an example of is mild , no matter how sick there kids get after ingesting the chemical cocktails they are convinced if they just keep looking they will “find the right meds”. They are like severe alcoholics trying to find the right combination of beer wine and liqueur to stop having problems with alcohol !!!

      But its mostly Münchausen syndrome by proxy in that group, they get to play the poor me sick role “my child has bipolar”.

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  5. These articles on the huge health problems caused by domestic and other social violence make me literally ill especially when they pretend the problem is that the medical profession is not trained to deal with it. They are trained to deal with it all right in that most medical/mental “health/death” experts are abusive, narcissistic and psychopathic themselves, so they not only won’t screen for domestic, work, school and other violence, but rather do all in their power to help to cover it up when obvious or reported and subject the victims to more abuse, violence, crazy making, gas lighting, exploitation, retraumatization and bogus stigmas to profit from their victims’ suffering in keeping with their own sadism, greed and intraspecies predation or sheer indifference at best. This is the sole, soulless purpose of the monstrous DSM of bogus, life destroying, blame the victim stigmas like the latest fad fraud bipolar: to lie and deny all the abuse, exploitation and predation on normal humans by the psychopaths/malignant narcissists in power. See Without Conscience, Snakes in Suits, The Sociopath Next Door, Political Ponerology, The Mask of Sanity, The Psychopathic Mind, Stalking the Soul, The Wizard of Oz And Other Narcissists, What Makes Narcissists Tick, Why Is It Always About You? and countless others exposing the real danger and menace to normal humans and the world at large.

    Yes, I admit that victim blaming articles and so called studies about the latest fraud fad bipolar claims of faulty genes or other supposed weaknesses that cause victims of Ted Bundy like psychos hiding among us in plain sight per Dr. Robert Hare to appear to lose it do upset me greatly. Other web sites now refer to Narcissist Abuse Syndrome. Dr. John Clarke shows the devastating impact on the lives of those preyed on by psychopaths at work and in general in his books, WORKING WITH MONSTERS. Dr. Robert Hare, world authority on psychos, does the same in his books, Without Conscience and Snakes in Suits as well as his web sites. Thus, I am very, very tired of the never ending blaming the victims approach while refusing to acknowledge the real cause of our global nightmares so well explained by the experts on psychopathy, malignant narcissism or plain human evil (The People of the Lie by Dr. M. Scott Peck)that has much to do with a complete lack of conscience and empathy in these human vampires. I would like to see more focus on this source of so called “mental illness” or emotional distress rather than the bogus never ending search for the causes in the victims of such horrific predation.

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    • I completely agree that extreme narcissism and vampirism on the part of our ‘leaders’ and ‘experts’ is the problem, here. They thrive on social ills, and the misfortune of others, to keep them deluded in their own power. Humility and personal ownership go a long way when searching for truth, but I’ve rarely–if ever–encountered it anywhere in the mental health field.

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  6. Here is a more mainstream source of information on the dangers of psychopaths: an entire FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin in July 2012 devoted to the nasty traits and huge dangers of psychopaths with emphasis on experts like world authority, Dr. Robert Hare, who invented the PCL-R test to diagnose psychopaths. Dr. Paul Babiak, an expert on corporate or work place psychopaths is also prominent in this bulletin:

    Experts like Dr. Hare who based much of his work on Dr. Hervey Cleckley’s book, The Mask of Sanity, have been warning for decades about the dangers of psychopaths to society. As our social structures continue to break down, it becomes much more easy for psychopathic chameleons to blend in and hide in plain sight to ply their evil trade with impunity in homes, work places, schools and communities at large.

    I am not big on diagnostic systems like the DSM per the above, but the DSM has totally ignored the work of Dr. Robert Hare and the other main experts on what is called psychopathy or sociopathy in its bogus antisocial personality label for mere criminals who aren’t necessarily psychopaths. As far as I’m concerned these terms are just modern labels for human evil with the same traits described in the Bible, by the Buddha, Zen and other moral, spiritual systems as evils to avoid like the plague in ourselves and others. Dr. M. Scott Peck, author of the best selling book, The Road Less Travelled, proposed a study of human evil in his great book, The People of the Lie, that describes how being in the presence of human evil for any length of time is very confusing and ultimately deadly especially for children.

    Though some claims have been made about the odd brain reactions of so called psychopaths to certain emotional words and language, I don’t believe there is real proof that psychopaths are any more than the usual combination of genes and environment for better or worse like the rest of us along with the individual choices we make based on our own self discipline, goals, personal choices and morals.

    One of the reasons biopsychiatry ignores such so called personality or character disorders on Axis II is because they aren’t seen as treatable or covered by insurance. However, as one psychiatrist observed on the web site, Narcissists Suck, the DSM frauds fit such nasties in bogus categories like bipolar so we have ended up with a very broad nasty hellish catchall with this deadly bipolar stigma that is so inclusive it can include Ted Bundy AND his victims under the same despicable bipolar umbrella to ensure no justice for one and all typical of the biopsychiatry/Big Pharma cartel.

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  7. Here is the web site, Aftermath, Surviving Psychopathy, to assist people who are or have been in relationships with those with psychopathic traits, which can be quite devastating per Dr. Hare and many victims:

    Of course, anyone who has been deceived, preyed upon, given a bogus, life destroying DSM stigma like bipolar and its related toxic drug cocktails and all the other evils entailed for abuse/bullying/mobbing related trauma has been preyed on by psychopathic malignant narcissists indeed for their own self gratification at their victims’ expense typical of psychopaths/malignant narcissists which both exist on a continuum of evil and predatory/sadistic traits. The predators are those who sold out to Big Pharma in the APA and those who created the despicable junk science DSM to push this life destroying, predatory agenda on all of humanity for greed, power and profit for the power elite at the expense of the vast majority of humans.

    Here is Dr. Robert Hare’s web site on psychopathy:

    A great web site on malignant narcissists with an admission by a psychiatrist about the DSM and personality disorders that psychiatrists/mental “health” experts don’t wish to see such nasty, bad, difficult people and chances of getting funding are almost nonexistent anyway as justification. Isn’t it great to know that these cowards in the mental death profession let the victims including children fend for themselves when preyed on by evil people while aiding and abetting them no less as well in both their predation and the coverup?

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  8. Another childhood trauma that they rarely acknowledge leads to a diagnosis of “bipolar” in kids is being groomed by the psychiatric industry to be a lifelong patient by being put on “antidepressants”.

    The huge, huge increase in this diagnosis which started in the late eighties coincides with the rise of SSRI “antidepressants”. And no wonder, since they cause mania.

    It is criminal that people of any age who have suffered heinous trauma at the hands of psychiatrists or other “health care” professionals do not have any official means of having that trauma acknowledged. Driving someone crazy with drugs is traumatizing. To stop the cycle of psychiatric abuse this has to be acknowledged. Yet aside from a few industry critics we hear almost nothing about this.

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    • “Antidepressants” psychiatry’s GATEWAY DRUG !

      And people are falling for it, read this:

      “I have recently been diagnosed as bi-polar and my psych doc wants to put me on meds (buspar, lamotigine and wellbrutrin).

      However I have also recently stopped drinking (approaching 3 months) — and am concerned that this may be PAWS instead of bi-polar (and am reluctant to take and/or become reliant on such serious meds if not needed).

      Prior to quitting drinking (about 5 months ago) I was put on Celebrex for six weeks for anxiety/depression — it was a nightmare and caused huge mood swings, inability to sleep, etc. Hence referral from my family doc to a psych doc and the current diagnosis.

      Does my reaction to Celebrex confirm bi-polar (and therefore not PAWS)?

      I have drank heavily on a daily basis for over ten years — and didn’t notice any mood swings apart from (1) needing a drink to take the edge off at the end of the day, or (2) needing a coffee to get going.

      I am meeting with my psych doc Monday and am trying to decide how hard to push back on the meds (or not).

      Any insights? ”

      Later he posted:

      “Symptoms “fit” bipolar since my bad reaction to cipralex (big time mania, rage episodes as never before experienced) and to a lessor extent since quitting drinking (moody and feeling uncharacteristically “fragile”/emotional)… but really hard to say prior to then given amount/frequency of alcohol and caffeine… ”

      If anyone wants to save this guy the thread is still going. it started 11-15-2013, 01:34 PM

      I hate the moderators on soberrecovery, I won’t even sign up again from a different IP.

      Anyway thats how psychiatry’s gateway drug works, a bad reaction to antidepressants lands you in bipolar medication wasteland.

      buspar, lamotigine and wellbrutrin , THAT’S HORRIBLE !

      WTF is wrong with these doctors ?

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      • What’s wrong with these “doctors?” I myself do not call them doctors but…

        Huge egos and the need for lots and lots of money to pay for the luxury cars and the huge homes in gated communities!!!! Maybe it’s th eneed to be the “experts” about everything in life and their need to control others and to shut people up who manifest in their lives the ills that permeate and rule our society every which way you turn. Maybe it’s the need to remain “blind” to the fact of how horrible human beings can be to one another.

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