Only in the last two decades has bipolar disorder become widely diagnosed in the U.S. Approximately 1 million kids have been given the life sentence of medication and therapy associated with the disorder.
Dr. Joseph Biederman, a Harvard child psychiatrist, studied kids with adhd (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and came to the conclusion that there was an emotional aspect. Their mood would fluctuate between anger and normal behavior. Violent outburst, extreme depression, and normal behavior would appear in episodes that would cycle. This is characterizing bipolar disorder.
The problem begins with studying adults that have bipolar were noted to not always have these traits as children. Psychiatrists are comparing adult characteristics to children. This is giving a child a sentence of life long therapy and drugs that could possibly not be present in later years and never noticed. Why are these bipolar characteristics present in children as they would be in adults?
The advantage of the label is that bipolar used to be called conduct disorder when present in children. Parents were blamed, and insurance companies didn’t want to pay for “bad parenting,” although there was not much that could be done except, prayer, therapy, and dieting. Bipolar disorder was considered a genetic problem and insurance companies had no problem paying for the same treatment. Now there are medications that are involved, that it is important to understand the side effects that might not be worth the risk.
The new classification is temper dysregulation disorder. Children between 6 years of age and considered to be in their adolescents are to be diagnosed who have severe reactions or tantrums two to three times a week and in between to have abnormal behavior. The disorder will continue to be treated with the same medications as bipolar disorder patients, but the difference is that it is not a life sentence. The disorder would be reevaluated at a certain age and monitored over time, not considered a life-long label.
It makes me wonder how the child feels as labeled bipolar. I think it’s the same issue when people learn their IQ. Knowing that they are abnormally high or low could either discourage someone in their full potential or push someone further. You never know the reaction that it could have. Is this really worth knowing what you could “possibly” live up too? I believe that these labels of bipolar or genius or stupid are not useful. Someone should never be told their potential because there are so many factors. Everyone has their own triumphs to overcome and we should each be able to work on ourselves and live to our fullest.