Bipolar disorder in children and teens is sometimes misdiagnosed as major depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and conduct disorder. Even so, more children and adolescents are being diagnosed with bipolar disorder than ever before. A 2007 study in the Archives of General Psychiatry reported that between 1994 and 2003 the rate of bipolar diagnosis in people age 18 and younger increased forty-fold. Overdiagnosis is “a huge problem,” says Mani Pavuluri, MD, PhD, director of the Pediatric Mood Disorders Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “So is underdiagnosis.”
It’s important to know the symptoms of bipolar disorder in children and teens so that you can adequately inform your child’s doctor. Some of the medications prescribed for the conditions listed above can actually exacerbate the symptoms of bipolar disorder.