Christopher Schneck

Dr. Christopher Schneck is the medical director for the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Depression Center at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora.

Researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora brought notable attention to the work there this month as they explore help for children and teens vulnerable to bipolar disorder.

Researchers found two treatments were more effective at delaying new and recurring bipolar symptoms: 12 sessions of teaching families better communication skills or six sessions of traditional psychoeducation to help patients understand and cope with their symptoms.

The treatments in the study took place at UCLA, two Colorado campuses and Stanford University.

Bipolar disorder is an incurable mental illness marked by patterns of extreme mood and energy swings, but for some patients it's treatable with medication and psychotherapy.

Colorado researchers, working with counterparts from Stanford University, studied 127 people between 9 and 17 years old.

Authors of the study said 75% in family-focused therapy recovered from their bipolar symptoms during the study. Symptoms did not recur for an average of 87 weeks. In the psychoeducation group, 65% of children and teens recovered with an average of 63 weeks before symptoms recurred.

“This study is an important first step in trying to decrease the severity of bipolar disorder early on for children,” Dr. Christopher Schneck, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and a co-author of the study, said in a statement.

“Efforts at home and in health care settings, like providing skill training for families, can make a big difference in a child’s suffering.”

The study was published Jan. 15 in the journal JAMA Psychiatry and picked up by such national outlets as the U.S. News & World Report.

The attention matters not just because of the advancement of science and mental health care.

Colorado leaders hope to make CU Anschutz the "Mayo Clinic of the West," and such national and international attention to its research furthers that goal.

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