Number of Bipolar Kids Skyrockets

Statistics heighten concerns that disorder is overdiagnosed
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 4, 2007 11:04 AM CDT

(Newser) – The number of American children being treated for bipolar disorder soared 40-fold between 1994 and 2003, and has probably risen significantly since then, the New York Times reports. The revelation in this month's Archives of General Psychiatry has stunned psychiatrists and heightened concerns that the condition may be over-diagnosed.

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The study found that 20,000 minors were treated for bipolar disorder in 1994, and 800,000 nine years later. "This really stands out as one of the most striking increases in this short a time," said the lead researcher. Critics say the term has been applied too liberally to unmanageable behavior and note that treatment is often ineffective, with serious side effects, such as rapid weight gain. (Read more bipolar disorder stories.)

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