Can children really have bipolar disorder? Or, is it a parenting issue? Is this mental illness overly-diagnosed?
When pediatric bipolar disorder occurs, it can be very impairing. Affected children have extreme mood swings – not for minutes at a time but for days. Children can become suicidal, violent, and often feel quite out of control. When properly diagnosed and treated, the lives of these children and their families can improve dramatically. Treatment often involves a combination of mood stabilizing medication and intensive psychotherapy. But when missed or misdiagnosed, these children may go on to suffer for a lifetime.
Stigma continues to be associated with a mental health diagnosis, and nowhere is that truer than in pediatric mental illness. Perhaps, in the future, efforts will focus on how to help, not who to blame.
- VanMeter, AR, Moreira, AL, Youngstrom, EA. Meta-analysis of epidemiologic studies of pediatric bipolar disorder. J Clin Psychiatry. 2011, May 31.