September 15, 2008

Childhood Bipolar Disorder Covered in NY Times

There is a good story that starts with one family's experience with childhood bipolar disorder in this week's New York Times magazine. The story chronicles the early life of "James" as he develops the disorder and eventually gets treatment.

Using that personal story as a background, the author then digs into the current controversies around the disorder and other families stories. Describing the issue that is around the exact frequency of bipolar disorder in children, the author notes:

"A study last fall measured a fortyfold increase in the number of doctor visits between 1994 and 2003 by children and adolescents said to have bipolar disorder, and the number has likely risen further. Most doctors I spoke with found the “fortyfold increase” misleading, since the number of bipolar kids at the beginning of the study was virtually zero and by the end of the study amounted to fewer than 7 percent of all mental-health disorders identified in children. Many also said that because bipolar children are often severely ill, they can proportionately account for more doctors’ visits than children with other psychiatric complaints, like A.D.H.D. or Anxiety Disorder. Still, nearly every clinician I spoke to said that bipolar illness is being overdiagnosed in kids. In Leibenluft’s studies at the National Institute of Mental Health, only 20 percent of children identified with bipolar disorder are found to meet the strict criteria for the disease.

Read the full story: The Bipolar Puzzle (New York Times)

Furious Seasons blog issued a rebuttal to the article here


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