Our paper says Bi-Polar diagnosis is increasing in kids

Hound dog

Nana's are Beautiful
Very interesting article.

While I do believe in bipolar in children, Nichole has always had symptoms, I often worry if it is going to become the next "popular diagnosis" for kids sort of the way ADHD was for a while.


Well-Known Member
This is strange......I can't get any of difficult child's doctors to say he's Bipolar. I guess they are afraid of that diagnosis or something. He's taking Lithium which is helping his demeanor drastically and he's now had what I call a real "rage" lasting over two hours. Actually, in my book, that means he's Bipolar since he has 80% of all the other criteria. Of course I don't want him to have the diagnosis of the day....but let's call a spade a spade! There is certainly something more than the ADHD he started out with in kindergarten (he's now in 6th grade).


I think there are a few things going on:

1. It has become the diagnosis of the day. I personally believe that ADHD and bipolar disorder are over - or mis-diagnosed. It's become far too easy to throw medications at a child and do the let's see what happens game. I'm not at all suggesting it doesn't exist in children; it clearly does. I just think some are too quick to jump to a conclusion.

2. There is more awareness than ever before of mental illness, which means that children that would have been labeled as just a behavior problem in the past are now getting diagnosed and treated.

3. There are more parents with and family histories of mental illness. It used to be that mentally ill people were locked away and didn't marry or reproduce. Thus, you're going to see an increase in children who have inherited these conditions from their parents/family.


New Member
our doctors don't want to say that my son is bipolar either, he has had his rages since he was a baby. we always thought that maybe he was just tempermental and sensitive. it wasn't until he had a rage that lasted 4 hours of non stop screaming in the car and at home that i started to look into what could be wrong. by the time i went to the doctor, i already knew what they were going to say. they do not want to label him with being bipolar because his dad has basicaly abanded him and we don't know if he was or i should say is. without solid proof that his dad is indeed bipolar the doctor doesn't want to say that my son is.


The problem is the DSM only has criteria for bipolar disorder in adults and, as we all know, bipolar in children manifests differently. Hopefully, the new version will have the criteria in it. Has anyone heard any speak of that?


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It took me a while to find this--the NYT article seemed to quote any and everyone NOT involved in the study, but here's a link-- It pretty much asks the same question we're all asking:


Conclusions There has been a recent rapid increase in the diagnosis of youth bipolar disorder in office-based medical settings. This increase highlights a need for clinical epidemiological reliability studies to determine the accuracy of clinical diagnoses of child and adolescent bipolar disorder in community practice.



“I have been studying trends in mental health services for some time, and this finding really stands out as one of the most striking increases in this short a time,” said Dr. Mark Olfson of the New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University, the senior author of the study, which appears in the September issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, which is to be published Tuesday.


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Ya know, no matter what they call it, difficult child has been treated with behavior mods, medications, therapy, for eight years and he's only (almost) 12. Clearly there's something more wrong than severe ADHD, right? I, too, think it would be best if they just diagnosis "bipolar". Then we might quit getting the ridiculous stares from the school personnel and get help without feeling like it's US who have something wrong.

Just last evening, our difficult child came home from the bus ride of 1 1/2 hours and he was WILD. OK, maybe that was the ADHD (maybe not), but I looked at husband and said......"No one had better EVER tell me there's nothing wrong with our son." The normal child doesn't crawl around on the ground at age 12 saying, "I'm huuuuuuungry." or throw things, etc. He was being out of control, just over the top. I see him falling more and more behind in maturity. It's scary.


Active Member
Skeptics would argue that most kids are over diagnosed. Some psychiatrists and psychologists refuse to diagnosis kids before age 18. I am not a big proponent of dxing kids ... as we all know labeling can be a great disservice to people.

One has to wonder if the pharmaceutical companies are pushing some of this. It equates to big bucks.

Interesting questions.


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I'm with you. I just know that my son needs help and if the only way for him to get it now and later is with this diagnosis, then so be it. Sure, I'd love for him to have NO diagnosis, but that's not the reality. I, too, think the drug companies are running with it. Big business...


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If kids improve on mood stabilizers (and couldn't function before) who cares what it's called? And, yes, for Disability you need the label and, sadly, many of our kids won't be working full time jobs. Some will, some won't. I don't know if I have bipolar. That's what it's called right now and I definitely have such horrible moodswings (without medications) that I can't function. They can call it whatever they want to call it as long as I'm doing good.
On the other hand, they rushed a bipolar diagnosis. on my son and he didn't have it.
I think both ADHD and bipolar are being diagnosed too often. As parents, we can get second or third opinions to get many points of view. I highly recommend this because our kid spent way too much time with diagnosis. he didn't have and on medications he didn't need. He is still obese from his bipolar medications days, yet he's doing fine four years after discontinuing them. Bottom line: Don't just agree with a professional--if you have any doubt, see if others agree with the diagnosis.
Interesting article.


Well-Known Member
Yes, I do believe that pharmaceutical companies are pushing some of it.

That only makes it harder for those who have kids who really have Borderline (BPD).

Also, a lot of it is soooo hard to diagnosis, and as Pamela pointed out, some of it doesn't really become clear until the kids get way old enough to where it is clearly out of place, such as an 11-yr-old crawling on the floor, whining.

But if we don't ask questions, we don't get answers, so we all have to start somewhere ...


call 911........call 911
Does anyone ELSE wonder....if the 'rise and rash' of more childrens mental diseases have ANYTHING to do with the hormones they are putting in our food, or the fact that there are hormones in our water (ie: birth control pills) that can not be filtered out?

I know I sound like I have seen flying saucers or I'm running with scissors with both eyes out, but it has made me wonder for years. I mean if there are scientists putting hormones IN our food or water or whatever...then maybe they are in cahoots with the drug companies to get rich (dare I say this that men in black show up at my door)

I am NOT paranoid.....what was that? Did you hear it?

But seriously....any thoughts


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Not me. I'm of the mindset that, since these problems always existed, we just have more knowledge now. Even as late as 1950 people who were "eccentric" were locked in institutions. Almost everyone who was odd was "schizophrenic." They'd never heard of bipolar in kids or high functioning autism. I consider this medical progress, not diet. And I don't think scientists are in cahoots with the drug companies. I do think some doctors favor some companies, but we, as parents, can avert that by refusing certain drugs. It's up to us what we allow our children to take. We can insist on medications that are tried and true rather than new, trendy, and expensive. I take two generics and do the job just fine. And they are a lot cheaper.


Active Member
some people say environmental problems are influencing the situation. I heard a theory , that genes mutate and the problem gets worse , so as a parent if you have mild ADHD , your kid will have it much worse. Also there is a bias now in research towards nature :censored2: opposed to nurture , so the problems are more biological

The bipoar / diagnosis issue - from my other thread

Is A Child You're Treating Bipolar? Why It May Not Matter


So what do you make of the diagnosis of bipolar disorder in children? Controversial, to be sure, but you’ve no doubt worked with a few kids to whom you thought the diagnosis might apply. Of course, your perspective on pediatric bipolar disorder probably hinges, at least partially, on the extent to which you find psychiatric diagnoses to be useful in general.

Here in the Collaborative Problem Solving Territories, we find it most helpful to understand challenging kids in the context of the cognitive skills they lack and the problems or triggers that precipitate their challenging moments. And so our perspective on pediatric bipolar disorder is, in many ways, the same as our perspective on other psychiatric diagnoses: since they don’t provide any information whatsoever about the cognitive skills a challenging child is lacking or the problems precipitating the child’s challenging moments, diagnoses aren’t especially useful for helping adult caretakers understand a child’s difficulties or pinpoint targets of intervention.

Of course, diagnoses can be useful on the fringes. They help researchers identify supposedly homogeneous groups of clinical populations that can be studied. They may bestow an official “stamp of impairment” so that a child’s difficulties are taken more seriously. They may help parents identify support groups to which they can belong. Sometimes they help practitioners get reimbursed for their services by managed care. And some practitioners have been trained to believe that a diagnosis provides useful information to guide decision-making on pharmacologic intervention (“you can’t know what medication to use until you know the child’s diagnosis,” goes the mantra).

But – and we do try to be open-minded about such things – we find that the downside of diagnoses frequently outweigh the upside, and this is perhaps especially the case with pediatric bipolar disorder. The lack of consensus criteria for the disorder is extremely problematic, as different researchers have adapted the adult criteria for bipolar disorder in variable ways to fit children (even while acknowledging that bipolar disorder in children bears little resemblance to the adult form of the disorder)…and the adaptations often test the bounds of credibility. Researchers have reported that features such as grandiosity, rapid flight of ideas, a driven pursuit of reckless activities without regard to consequences, and pressured speech are more common in children than previously known. Of course, what you’re seeing and believing is completely a function of the lenses you’re wearing…in other words, the criteria you’re using. Alas, the devil truly is in the details, and the fact that diagnoses are supposed to reflect a significant level of developmental deviance seems not to have been a major – or even minor – consideration. So we are left to ponder the developmental deviance of criteria such as “class clown relative to other children” and “immature, babyish” (these have been used as indicators of elevated mood); “bathroom humor” and “off-color jokes” (hyper-sexuality); “talkative relative to other children…even if only during a rage episode” (pressured speech); statements like “You don’t care about me” and “You don’t love me” (paranoia); and “extreme defiance beyond mere ODD,” and “controlling” (grandiosity).

Of course, one of the biggest concerns about diagnosing bipolar disorder in children is the fact that the diagnosis typically places the child on a pharmacologic “slippery slope,” usually in the direction of mood stabilizing medications. These medications are often used in combination, yet they haven’t been adequately tested for use in children even when prescribed alone. Their side-effect profiles are often quite concerning. Most troubling, perhaps, is the fact that diagnosing a child with bipolar disorder pathologizes the child and therefore often obscures the fact that challenging behavior in kids is a complex, transactional phenomenon also involving the child’s interaction partners and environments.

Back in the 50s, a prominent psychiatrist named Thomas Szasz characterized psychopathology as “problems in living.” How apt a description for kids being diagnosed with bipolar disorder! What are their problems in living? They lack the skills to handle frustration, regulate emotions, and solve problems adaptively. Can these skills be identified and taught? Indeed, they can. Can medication be helpful in setting the stage for such teaching? In some cases, yes. Does medication teach lacking thinking skills or solve problems? No, medication does not. Is diagnosing a child with pediatric bipolar disorder a necessary first step? In general, no.

hearts and roses

Mind Reader
This article was in our paper also. I read it and had my concerns along the way also because when difficult child was diagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome and ADHD, then later with a "Mood Disorder", I got a lot of flack from my families. For me it was a hard pill to swallow. While the mood disorder was ruled out, she still has had labels growing up and to some degree, yes, I think they've hindered her in a few ways.

I think a larger reason for the higher diagnosis rates is because we live in a very blame oriented society...ie., "What can we blame this behavior on?" And, likewise, I think we have more documented research and information available than years ago. Add to that the intense experimentation with various medications, and it stands to reason that they will find a use for all those chemicals. Think of all the drugs that were originally designed for one malady and during trials were discovered to help or cure another one altogether!

Like so many have already said, back in the early to mid and even late 1900's, people who were 'different, dull-minded, eccentric, too loud or histrionic, etc., were usually institutionalized. Or, if their families could afford it, they had personal aides or nurses who took care of them, tucked away at home someplace with little social contact. No one ever thought Helen Keller was going to amount to anything and look what she did with her life, due in large part to the persistence of her family's medical intervention with various therapies and a live in aide/teacher.

For the most part I believe that mental disorders have always been around. However, I do think that what we consume matters as well. Obviously steering clear of artificial foodstuffs and processed food can't be good for our bodies, Know what I mean?? And maybe marrying and having children with someone whose genetics were not much better than mine wasn't such a great idea either! j/k - lol.


Well-Known Member
Loan Ranger, I do think that hormones in our food are causing more cancer, and creating fertility issues. Bit not ADHD or Borderline (BPD). A lot of Borderline (BPD) is genetic but no one has yet shown a hormonal link.
I think video games and TV are more directly related to ADHD. There was a good study released this wk on it ... I'll do a search.


Well-Known Member
While there is a range of opinions as to the causes of ADHD, there is a strong consensus among doctors and experts that an excessive amount of electronic media can exacerbate the ADHD behaviors in children. A research conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health concluded: “Extensive exposure to television and video games may promote development of brain systems that scan and shift attention at the expense of those that focus attention” (Jensen, et al., 1997). Dr. Thomas Armstrong points out how the techniques used in electronic media can effect children: “By creating high-impact audio and visual information in short blasts, television (and also video games) may be secretly undermining some natural attentional mechanisms in the human mind” (Armstrong, 76).

In his book Running on Ritalin, Dr. Lawrence Diller discusses many environmental and cultural influences related to ADHD, but focuses in on TV:


Well-Known Member
Here's another one:


It's Official:
TV Linked to Attention Deficit
babies and toddlers parked in front of the TV have a much higher risk of developing ADHD by age 7, a new study shows
by Jean Lotus

A study from the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that watching videos as a toddler may lead to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD, also called ADD in UK) in later life.

TV watching "rewires" an infant’s brain, says Dr. Dimitri A. Christakis lead researcher and director of the Child Health Institute at Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center, Seattle, Wash. The damage shows up at age 7 when children have difficulty paying attention in school.

"In contrast to the way real life unfolds and is experienced by young children, the pace of TV is greatly sped up." says Christakis. His research appears in the April 2004 issue of Pediatrics. Quick scene shifts of video images become "normal," to a baby "when in fact, it’s decidedly not normal or natural." Christakis says. Exposing a baby’s developing brain to videos may overstimulate it, causing permanent changes in developing neural pathways.

"Also in question is whether the insistent noise of television in the home may interfere with the development of ‘inner speech’ by which a child learns to think through problems and plans and restrain impulsive responding," wrote Jane Healy, psychologist and child brain expert in the magazine’s commentary.

Babies brains grow rapidly

Even a child playing with its own fingers has the neural patterning that comes from bending, flexing, stretching and grasping. Scientists tell us that the brain develops in completely unique ways between birth and three years. As a kiddie viddie baby sits "mesmerized", neural paths are not being created. This is crucial brain development that stops by age three.

"You don’t want to think that something as innocent as half-an-hour’s peace and quiet could reduce your kid’s chances later in life," says Claire Eaton, 27-year-old mother from Lewisham, Australia.

Setting up baby for failure in school

Are parents who use infant videos such as "Baby Einstein" and "Teletubbies" putting their child at risk for a lifetime of Special Education classes, school "behavioral therapy" and Ritalin?

In the study of more than 2,000 children, Christakis found that for every hour watched at age one and age three, the children had almost a ten percent higher chance of developing attention problems that could be diagnosed as ADHD by age 7. A toddler watching three hours of infant television daily had nearly a 30 percent higher chance of having attention problems in school.

Infant videos: They wouldn’t sell them if they were dangerous --Would they?

An explosion of kidvids for the bouncy chair set has hit the market. These include Baby Einstein, Baby Mozart, So Smart etc. TV shows, such as Teletubbies, aim at 18-month-old toddlers. These videos are peddled as "educational tools" to "give your baby a head start." The truth is, they are a video-tether that keeps baby out from underfoot.

"Max is learning German right now from a video"

Parents take away crucial life experiences from their child every time they pop in Baby Einstein. But they do love how it takes the baby out of their hair for awhile Listen to what parents say in testimonials about infant videos:

"I love spending time with my boy but let's face it, there are times when you just have to have 10 minutes or so to yourself so that you can wash the dishes or do laundry; that's when you pop this video in. It's 25 minutes of entertainment that holds the attention of even very young children. ," (son 10 months) Chris Hudson from San Antonio, TX.

There are times I rewind it and play it again and again until I get the dishes done and order restored. My son is captivated (and hopefully learning something). Mom I n Connecticut

The only thing I wish is that the videos were longer than 30min. Melissa Perruzi, Clinton Mississippi

(From Baby Eisntein reviews on Amazon.com).

Big problem for little people

Twenty-six percent of US children younger than age two have TV in their bedrooms - often watched from the crib, and 36 percent of families leave the TV on almost all of the time, even when no one is watching, according to a 2000 Kaiser Family Foundation study.

Don’t put your child at risk!

The good news is, infants and toddlers don’t need television to distract them. Humans raised children for 50,000 years before television sets and you can do it too. Your children can learn to entertain themselves or play with your supervision.

"When one-year olds are playing with a toy, they can explore it, poke at it, drop it," says Yale University Television Researcher Dorothy Singer. "They’re learning about space, about sound, and they’re developing sense of competence. Watching a TV show just doesn’t provide the same sensory experience."

Leaving a child alone with the TV is never a good idea.

"Would you entrust you toddler into the care of a baby sitter, even for a few minutes, who cannot hear or see your child?" writes Nancy Hall of Yale University’s Bush Center in Child Development and Social Policy. "Would you leave your child in an environment that encourages passivity, limits creativity and results in increased aggressive behavior? Many 1-year-olds are spending time regularly with just such a baby sitter: the television set."

What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

ADHD affects 12 percent of US school children and has increased dramatically over the past 50 years. Studies show ADHD increased with the introduction of children’s television in the 1950s and then spiked higher in the mid 1980s when VCRs and home video became commonplace. Although the condition is known to be genetic, scientists have noted its rapid spread throughout every social class of children, and guessed that there could be an environmental cause. TV watching is a cause, this study shows.

How much TV should I let my baby watch?

No child under age two should watch television at all, the Academy of American Pediatrics advised in 1998. Doctors blame TV for increasing aggression and obesity in children, now they add ADHD risk to early TV use.

Hound dog

Nana's are Beautiful
I thought I read somewhere that a new theory on bipolar is that some hormone prevents/or triggers some enzyme that prevents a certain chemical reaction in the brain. Or maybe I saw it on Discovery Health.

Terry I don't find it hard to believe that tv and video games can cause problems with attention spans. I've seen it in many kids. It's that instant gratification thing more than true ADHD. But maybe if they started at a young enough age.... My kids didn't hardly watch tv at all, and weren't allowed but a couple of hours of video games a week. Funny, but none of them watch tv now or play video games much. lol

I guess some of the increase couldn't just be because the population is booming, too? Personally there can be so many contributing factors I don't know how they manage to think of them all, let alone keep them straight.