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

oung people, a correction of historical under recognition, or a combination of these trends. Clearly, we need to learn more about what criteria physicians in the community are actually using to diagnose bipolar disorder in children and adolescents and how physicians are arriving at decisions concerning clinical management, said Dr. Olfson.

The fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) provide general guidelines that can help doctors identify bipolar disorder in young patients. However, some studies show that youths with symptoms of mania (over-excited, elated mood)one of the classic signs of bipolar disorderoften do not meet the full criteria for a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Other disorders, such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/healthinformation/adhdmenu.cfm), may have symptoms that overlap, so some of these conditions may be mistaken for bipolar disorder as well. For example, in a study conducted in 2001, nearly one-half of bipolar diagnoses in adolescent inpatients made by community clinicians were later re-classified as other mental disorders.

Doctors also face tough questions when deciding on proper treatment for young people. Guidelines for treating adults with bipolar disorder are well-documented by research, but few studies have looked at the safety and effectiveness of psychiatric medications for treating children and adolescents with the disorder. Despite this limited evidence, the researchers found similar treatment patterns for both age groups in terms of use of psychotherapy and prescription medications.

Of the medications studied, mood stabilizers, including lithiumwhich was the only medication approved at the time of the study by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treating bipolar disorder in childrenwere prescribed in two-thirds of the visits by youth and adu
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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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