Pediatric Bipolar Depression Disorder Debate

Pediatric Bipolar Depression Disorder Debate


Bipolar disorder has become a debatable area in the field of mental health in children. There is a controversy on whether pediatric bipolar depression disorder exists. The controversy is on the symptoms of bipolar depression disorder in children and the way they vary from those in grown-ups.  More disagreement subsists in children when symptoms such as unstable moods, increased irritability, and severe temper outbursts become more chronic. Some researchers are of the view that children with emotional instability, extreme temper outbursts, and severe irritability suffer from bipolar depression disorder and thus must be treated. Pediatric Bipolar Depression Disorder Debate

Debate against a diagnosis of pediatric bipolar depression disorder

I am opposed to a diagnosis for pediatric bipolar disorder because it will result to misdiagnosis of youngsters. Bipolar in children can be misdiagnosed as another illness because children with bipolar disorder have similar symptoms of childhood disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and general anxiety disorder. Parens and Johnston (2015) note that pediatric bipolar disorder is not defined well, which can result to wrong diagnosis and incorrect treatment. Pediatric bipolar disorder is extremely rare and if it occurs, symptoms are similar to those seen in adults.


According to Renk et al (2014), many researchers still consider bipolar disorder as rare in kids, with some reporting that majority of children are passed over in the diagnosis of bipolar disorder as a result of ambiguity in diagnostic criterion along with concerns on the rationality of diagnosis in youngsters.  For instance, even though youngsters in a sole sample of thirty six sequentially hospitalized preschool kids who were two to five years old demonstrated a short-tempered mood and had demonstrated symptoms of attention deficiency hyperactivity disorder in the past, merely seventeen percent had bipolar disorder (Renk et al, 2014). Pediatric Bipolar Depression Disorder Debate

Additionally, due to the fact that developmental disparities in the presentation of onset of bipolar disorder in childhood versus adult-onset were recognized (for instance, youngsters demonstrating more diversified symptoms), the majority of youngsters might be allotted an inappropriate diagnosis. Such problems might be especially challenging because the appropriate diagnosis is crucial for averting mislabeling and exposure to avoidable medication (Renk et al, 2014).

Bipolar disorder in adults usually entails discrete incidents of major depression, which alternate with discrete incidents of mania. In children mixed states (a blend of depression and mania) and swift cycling or mood swings might be more universal. This can pose challenges in diagnosis of bipolar depression disorder in this group. Additionally, kids might naturally be predisposed to some level of mood instability.  It is difficult to establish whether this form of moodiness comes to an end and bipolar depression disorder starts in a depressed child.

According to Rizvi et al (2014), some researchers argue that while elated mood might be of help in ruling that a child has bipolar disorder, necessitating it as a symptom could result to underdiagnosis because of its inadequate diagnostic sensitivity.  Grandiosity, an additional symptom that some consider as a cardinal symptom of pediatric bipolar disorder, is problematical, as the majority of kids either display developmentally suitable fantasizing and imagination or don’t display these symptoms (Rizvi et al, 2014). Children with bipolar disorder might demonstrate more swift alterations in mood polarities along with diversified presentations. Children have a great likelihood of having rapid fluctuation, additional behavior difficulties as well as separation anxiety when presenting their mixed mood (Rizvi, 2014).


A diagnosis for pediatric bipolar disorder can lead to misdiagnosis of children for other illnesses. Bipolar disorder in adults usually entails discrete incidents of major depression, which alternate with discrete incidents of mania. Children do not present the adult cycle of separate mood incidents of depression and mania and mixed states and mood swings might be more universal. Additionally, majority of symptoms that occur in bipolar disorder are also present in other disorders that occur in childhood. Pediatric Bipolar Depression Disorder Debate


Parens, E., & Johnston, J. (2015). Controversies concerning the diagnosis and treatment of bipolar disorder in children. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health, 4: 9-15.

Renk, K., White, R., & Lauer, B et al (2014). Bipolar Disorder in Children. Psychiatry Journal, 2014: 1- 19.

Rizvi, S., Ong, M., & Youngstrom, E. (2014). Bipolar disorder in children and adolescents: an update on diagnosis. Clinical Practice, 11(6): 665-676. Pediatric Bipolar Depression Disorder Debate

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