Sharp Rise in bipolar disorder diagnosis

September 14, 2007

The number of children treated in US psychiatric hospitals for bipolar disorder has risen sixfold between 1996 and 2004, a report reveals.

The study by researchers at Stony Brook University Medical Center in New York found that the rate of children hospitalised for bipolar disorder jumped from 1.3 per cent per 10,000 children in 1996 to 7.3 per cent per 10,000 in 2004. The increase was especially marked in younger children, with an rise of almost 439 per cent among five to 13-year-olds. Before 1994 it was one of the least frequently recorded conditions among child inpatients, but it was the most common by 2004. The prevalence of the condition shot up by more than 296 per cent in 14 to 18-year-olds and 56 per cent in those aged 19 and over.

Researchers Joseph Blader and Gabrielle Carlson said the increase in diagnosis could be the result of youngsters being diagnosed with the disorder who would previously have been deemed to have a different condition despite having the same symptoms. Bipolar disorder, which is also known as manic depression, causes severe and dramatic mood swings.

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