Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

split decision.(Health)

Byline: Stories by Jackie Jadrnak Of the Journal

Mental health profession divided on diagnosing children with bipolar disorder

Picture a child who rages for hours on end with tantrums that can be physically violent and can be set off by the slightest irritation.

Picture a child who talks a mile a minute, acts giddy, holds a grandiose self-image and has trouble sleeping at night.

Picture a child who becomes quiet and sad, crying easily and thinking about suicide.

Now picture all those traits in the same child, with moods and behavior that change without warning, often within the same day.

Some psychiatrists argue those children should be diagnosed with a form of bipolar disorder that is different from the way that mental illness expresses itself in adults.

The profession's own diagnostic manual does not yet recognize those symptoms as reflecting bipolar disorder.

But failure to make a proper diagnosis can end in tragedy for these children, warn some mental health professionals.

"It's not being diagnosed, but it's staring you right in the eye. …

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