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Rates of bipolar diagnosis in youth rapidly climbing, treatment patterns similar to adults
Date:9/3/2007

The number of visits to a doctors office that resulted in a diagnosis of bipolar disorder in children and adolescents has increased by 40 times over the last decade, reported researchers funded in part by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Over the same time period, the number of visits by adults resulting in a bipolar disorder diagnosis almost doubled. The cause of these increases is unclear. Medication prescription patterns for the two groups were similar. The study was published in the September 2007 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Mark Olfson, M.D., M.P.H., of New York State Psychiatric Institute of Columbia University, along with National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) researcher Gonzalo Laje, M.D., and their colleagues examined 10 years of data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS), an annual, nationwide survey of visits to doctors offices over a one-week period, conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics. The researchers estimated that in the United States from 19941995, the number of office visits resulting in a diagnosis of bipolar disorder (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/healthinformation/bipolarmenu.cfm) was 25 out of every 100,000 for youths ages 19 and younger. By 20022003, the number had jumped to 1,003 per 100,000 youth visits. In contrast, for adults ages 20 and older, 905 per 100,000 office visits resulted in a bipolar disorder diagnosis in 19941995; a decade later the number had risen to 1,679 per 100,000 visits.

While the increase in bipolar diagnoses in youth far outpaces the increase in diagnosis among adults, the researchers are cautious about interpreting these data as an actual rise in the number of people who have the illness (prevalence) or the number of new cases each year (incidence).

It is likely that this impressive increase reflects a recent tendency to overdiagnose bipolar disorder in y
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Contact: Karin Lee
NIMHpress@nih.gov
301-443-4536
NIH/National Institute of Mental Health
Source:Eurekalert

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