Until recently, bipolar disorders were almost never diagnosed in children and
rarely recognized in adolescents, even though between 20 and 40 percent of the
two million or more adults diagnosed with bipolar disorders in the United States
experienced the onset of illness in their teen years or before. Psychiatrists now
recognize that manic depression has frequently been misdiagnosed as ADHD (or
oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, or depression). According to
recent data, 23 percent of children currently diagnosed with ADHD will evenutally
be diagnosed as having a bipolar disorder. As many as a million children in the
US alone may have childhood-onset bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorders are different in children than in adults. There are some
diagnostic criteria unique to children. Some reckless behavior is limited by
being a child and being under adult control. Families and communities pay a
heavy toll when this disorder is not recognized and treated. Suicide is a
possible outcome, as are school failure, limited job prospects, legal difficulties,
and hospitalizations. Understanding and recognizing the differences in the
illness for children and adolescents is key for concerned parents and professionals.
Bipolar Disorders covers the range of topics that parents need to know
about in order to help their children:
*Description of the range of bipolar disorders
*Diagnostic criteria, current and proposed, including comparisons to common misdiagnoses
*Family life with bipolar disorders, including recognizing and preventing mood swings, safety,
*Medications, with special attention to the physiology and responses of children and adolescents
*Therapeutic interventions in various "talk therapies"
*Other interventions, such as improving sleep patterns, preventing seasonal mood swings, diet, and
*School, including special education system and 504 Plans or EIPs
As author Mitzi Waltz notes, "With early intervention, the possibilities for these
kids are limitless."