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Child and Adolescent Bipolar Spectrum Services (CABS)

Bipolar disorder — or manic depression, as it used to be called — is a mood disorder that runs in families and has a strong genetic basis. It is a serious neuropsychiatric illness marked by episodes of mania and depression.

Though it used to be thought that bipolar disorder was very rare in youth, we now understand that it often first presents itself in childhood, and particularly during  adolescence.

Bipolar disorder can be difficult to diagnose in youth, as it can be mistaken for other psychiatric disorders.

Child and Adolescent Bipolar Spectrum Services (CABS) at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC is devoted to diagnosing and treating children and adolescents with mood problems.

About CABS

CABS provides:

  • Integrated clinical and research
  • Comprehensive assessments for bipolar disorder in young adults or children and adolescents
  • Inpatient and outpatient treatments
  • Second opinion consultations

When appropriate, CABS provides these services through telepsychiatry.

CABS inpatient and outpatient services work as a team for diagnostic and treatment discussions and appropriate referrals. CABS also performs a number of different research studies.

Diagnosing Bipolar Disorders

An accurate bipolar diagnosis requires:

  • Well-trained and experienced doctors and clinicians
  • Long interviews
  • Multiple informants

We begin with an evaluation to identify the type of problems that the child is experiencing.

Conducted by a clinician and psychiatrist, evaluations include:

  • Interviews with the child
  • Interviews with the parent(s) or caregivers
  • Completion of detailed questionnaires

At the conclusion of the evaluation, the team meets with the family to discuss diagnosis and treatment recommendations. Sometimes it will take several visits before we can be clear about diagnosis.

Treating Bipolar Disorder

If the child has — or is suspected to have — bipolar disorder, we will offer treatment through the CABS clinic. If the child does not have bipolar, we will assist with referral to other appropriate providers.

Treatment includes:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Medications, if appropriate and agreed to by the family
  • Ongoing evaluation, management, and support

Education is an important part of treatment and is provided to help families better understand and cope with the disorder.

We provide additional psycho-education materials for youth, parents, and professionals.

Inpatient Child and Adolescent Bipolar Spectrum Services (IN CABS)

IN-CABS is an integrated acute care program that bridges clinical innovation with evidence-based practices in the hospital. We specialize in serving adolescents who have bipolar disorder or who are at risk to have bipolar disorder.

IN-CABS uses an innovative, comprehensive assessment to diagnose and rule out bipolar disorder.

IN-CABS also provides:

  • Culturally sensitive, developmentally appropriate, adolescent-oriented, and family-focused treatment approaches
  • We specialize in serving adolescents (age 13 or older) who have bipolar disorder or who are at risk to have bipolar disorder
  • Bipolar disorder-specific workbooks
  • Novel computerized mood-monitoring tools
  • Wellness approaches (nutrition, exercise, yoga)

Synergy and coordination with other professionals and care providers

Services may include consulting with other professionals who are involved in the child’s care, such as teachers, mental health professionals, or pediatricians. When appropriate, we can provide these services through telepsychiatry.

Coordination starts with evaluation and admission. We develop synergy between inpatient and outpatient services, targeting quality and continuity of care.

IN-CABS staff shares a detailed report with outpatient providers about the results of the child's inpatient assessment and interventions.

Similarly, our comprehensive CABS outpatient assessment and treatment recommendations are shared with the local providers.

Referral Process for Physicians and/or Professionals


Call IN-CABS at 412-246-6094 if:

  • The adolescent (13 years or older) displays mania-like symptoms that require diagnostic clarification in a structured setting.
  • The adolescent needs specialized interventions for bipolar disorder on the inpatient unit.
  • You would like more information about IN-CABS

Physicians and professionals may refer adolescents from other cities or states. For questions about direct admission and transfers from other hospitals, please call 412-624-2000.


To initiate an outpatient assessment at CABS, please call 412-246-5238 or 1-877-851-CABS.

Parents, outpatient doctors and clinicians, or treatment centers and hospitals can initiate the referral for outpatient services.

Learn more about the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Spectrum Disorders Research and Clinic at the University of Pittsburgh.​

Contact Us

  • Outpatient CABS services
    Bellefield Towers in the Oakland area of Pittsburgh, Pa.
    412-246-5238 or 1-877-851-CABS
  • Inpatient CABS services
    Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic
    For direct admission and transfers from other hospitals, call 412-624-2000

Awards and Recognition

IN-CABS was recognized by:

  • National Council — 2013 Excellence in Clinical Medicine Award
  • Rehabilitation and Community Providers Association — 2013 Recognition Award for Innovation in Mental Health
  • Hospital Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) — 2011 Best Patient Care Award

Additional Resources

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For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

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