Children Labeled 'Bipolar' May Get A New Diagnosis
February 10, 2010 NPR reports on children's health and medical news including health insurance, new treatments for diseases, and child product safety recalls.
Response from California Bipolar Foundation's Medical Director:
This has been a controversy for a long time. This new "disorder" being considered probably won't see the light of day. But if it does there is good and bad in it I think.
I think I will see fewer comatose kids on 4 psychotropics walk into my office who are not/were not/ and never are going to be Bipolar. I see these cases where the diagnosis is carelessly made, behavior mod is never tried, and the doctors just add another med every time there is another tantrum.
On the other side, maybe we will be back to people not believing in childhood Bipolar Disorder.
What are needed are well-vetted criteria for childhood Bipolar Disorder that predict Adult Bipolar Disorder. There are some such criteria, but nothing really specific until the kids start showing cardinal symptoms of mania tracking with their behavior.
Regardless of what it gets called, these kids are ill and need help. Maybe the controversy will spark more long term studies of which markers of childhood bipolar versus temper dysregulation disorder predict an adult bipolar outcome. That would be a good thing.
Anyway, psychiatrists do everything by committee and are largely a hopelessly indecisive group. Even if this new diagnosis is made, they will change it again in the next DSM. For example, ADHD has been renamed 3 times in my professional lifetime.
Tom Jensen, M.D.
California Bipolar Foundation