Is bipolar the new diagnosis du jour? A few weeks ago I asked the question in this post. Since then you may have read the Newsweek article by noted psychiatrist and PT blogger, Stuart Kaplan, M.D. If you haven't, you really should!
There has been a 400% increase in the diagnosis of bipolar disorder in young children and a 40 times increase between 1995 to 2003 alone according to Dr. Kaplan (among others). He states that bipolar in young children is likely due to other perhaps more mundane diagnoses like ADHD, ODD, PDD, and so forth.
Do children, even very young preschool children, really have bipolar disorder? Even if they did, how could you tell since the symptoms of bipolar in children seem to overlap with so many more common issues that might contribute to these troubles (e.g., attention deficit, hyperactivity, oppositional defiant, and conduct disorders, learning disabilities, the influence of child abuse and neglect, poor parenting). Today, young children are receiving a very serious psychiatric disorder label at alarming rates. They are also offered serious mood stabilizing medications that may not have adequate research support to use with young children. In my earlier blog post I mentioned a recent article in the Archives of General Psychiatry stating that the rates of bipolar disorder in the United States are at least twice (and often more) found outside of the United States.