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

lant medicationusually prescribed for treating ADHDand adults were more likely than youth to be prescribed benzodiazepines, a type of medication used to treat anxiety disorders (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/healthinformation/anxietymenu.cfm). More than half of all diagnosed youths and adults were prescribed a combination of medications. Given the relative lack of studies on appropriate treatments for youth with bipolar disorder, the researchers noted the urgent need for more research on the safety and effectiveness of medication treatments that are commonly prescribed to this age group.

The study had several important limitations. For example, the survey relied on the judgment of the treating physicians, rather than an independent assessment. As a result, the researchers findings reveal more about patterns in diagnosis among office-based doctors than about definitive numbers of people affected by the illness. Another limitation is that the survey recorded the number of office visits instead of the number of individual patients, so some people may have been counted more than once.

A forty-fold increase in the diagnosis of bipolar disorder in children and adolescents is worrisome, said NIMH Director Thomas R. Insel, M.D. We do not know how much of this increase reflects earlier under-diagnosis, current over-diagnosis, possibly a true increase in prevalence of this illness, or some combination of these factors. However, these new results confirm what we are hearing increasingly from families who tell us about disabling, sometimes dangerous psychiatric symptoms in their children. This report reminds us of the need for research that validates the diagnosis of bipolar disorder and other disorders in children and the importance of developing treatments that are safe, effective, and feasible for use in primary care.

This research, performed at a National Center on Minority Health a
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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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