Facebook Pixel

Controversial Update in Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder in Children

By HERWriter Blogger
Rate This
update for diagnosing bipolar disorder in children is controversial PhotoSpin

Twenty years ago, there were almost no cases of diagnosed bipolar disorder in children. Now, some estimates say almost 3 percent of all adolescents are living with this mental health issue. In the last 10 years alone the diagnosis has skyrocketed by 40 percent.

With over 5.7 million adults living with bipolar disorder, it is a mental health problem many families have to deal with.

Many of the kids being diagnosed with bipolar are teens prone to explosive outbursts and other bouts of teenage rage. The new guidelines for diagnosing bipolar disorder makes a clear distinction between everyday teenage angst and aggression and a real psychological problem.

The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, commonly known as DSM-5, is the "bible" of American mental health issues. It is published by the American Psychiatric Association and is used to diagnose patients with mental health problems.

The new guidelines on adolescent bipolar disorder are the first major rewrite of the almost 1,000-page guide in 20 years. The changes are driven by some major psychiatric studies which change the way symptoms of this condition are seen in children as well as how this pediatric disorder has evolved over the last 20 years.

Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD) is supposed to address children who have chronic irritability, and frequent temper outbursts at least three times a week for more than a year. They recommend this diagnosis only for children between the ages of 6 and 18.

According to the diagnostic guidelines in the DSM-5 revision, the temper outbursts are not typical temper tantrums one might witness when a child is overtired or out of sorts.

Rather, they are explosive and grossly out of proportion with whatever is going on in the situation. They are also out of line according to the child's developmental stage, happen at least three times each week and commenced before the child was 10 years old.

But not all experts agree with the changes. Some within the psychiatric community argue that the revisions are premature. They disagree that the temper outbursts are something outside a bipolar diagnosis, saying that the disease often presents itself differently in children than in adults.

Detractors also worry about DMDD not being researched enough and actually exacerbating the over-medication of adolescents. All seem to agree though that these changes equate to a game changer within the mental health community.


Shine.Yahoo.com. Web. 13 May 2013. "Diagnosing bipolar disorder in kids: Here's the DSM-5's controversial new update."

Shine.Yahoo.com. Web. Published 31 March 2013. "Understanding bipolar disorder."

Reviewed May 14, 2013
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Bipolar Disorder

Get Email Updates

Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!