Comorbid sleep disorders and suicide risk among children and adolescents with bipolar disorder

Ian H. Stanley, Melanie A. Hom, Joan L. Luby, Paramjit T. Joshi, Karen D. Wagner, Graham J. Emslie, John T. Walkup, David A. Axelson, Thomas E. Joiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Children and adolescents with bipolar disorder are at increased risk for suicide. Sleep disturbances are common among youth with bipolar disorder and are also independently implicated in suicide risk; thus, comorbid sleep disorders may amplify suicide risk in this clinical population. This study examined the effects of comorbid sleep disorders on suicide risk among youth with bipolar disorder. We conducted secondary analyses of baseline data from the Treatment of Early Age Mania (TEAM) study, a randomized controlled trial of individuals aged 6–15 years (mean ± SD = 10.2 ± 2.7 years) with DSM-IV bipolar I disorder (N = 379). Sleep disorders (i.e., nightmare, sleep terror, and sleepwalking disorders) and suicide risk were assessed via the WASH-U-KSADS and the CDRS-R, respectively. We constructed uncontrolled logistic regression models as well as models controlling for trauma history, a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) diagnosis, and depression symptoms. Participants with a current comorbid nightmare disorder versus those without were nearly twice as likely to screen positive for suicide risk in an uncontrolled model and models controlling for trauma history, a GAD diagnosis, and depression symptoms. Neither a current comorbid sleep terror disorder nor a sleepwalking disorder was significantly associated with suicide risk. This pattern of findings remained consistent for both current and lifetime sleep disorder diagnoses. Youth with bipolar I disorder and a comorbid nightmare disorder appear to be at heightened suicide risk. Implications for assessment and treatment are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-59
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
StatePublished - Dec 2017


  • Bipolar disorder
  • Nightmares
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Suicide risk
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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