Harvard Mental Health Letter

Commentary: The rise of pediatric bipolar disorder

Commentary

The rise of pediatric bipolar disorder

An article published in the September 2007 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry provides strong evidence that the diagnosis of bipolar disorder is rising in popularity, especially in children. Analyzing survey data from the National Center for Health Statistics, the authors identified trends in the diagnosis and treatment of bipolar disorder by measuring visits to physicians.

Office visits by children diagnosed with bipolar disorder multiplied 40-fold from 1994 to 2003. The number of office visits per 100,000 children went from a quite rare 25 to a much more common 1,003 in that period. Adult office visits during the same period almost doubled (905 to 1,679), which would be impressive on its own if the childhood increase were not so stunning.

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