Mania to diagnose: kids and bipolar

We might not know what a kid’s favorite color is yet, but we could know if s/he’s bipolar.

Slate.com had an article last week titled “Manic Panic: Why are more children being diagnosed with bipolar disorder?” It may seem like a question that’s being asked more recently, but it was in 2007 when the TV program 60 Minutes asked the question: “Bipolar: Dangerous Diagnosis?” (it’s linked to the video).  In this episode, a mother is on trial for killing her daughter with prescription drugs for bipolar disorder. It investigated on the effects of increased diagnoses of this illness in children.

These pieces still left me wondering if we’re now just labeling certain eccentricities as a disorder of some sort (e.g. bipolar disorder) just so the adults can have a ‘rational’ reason for everything. As I think about having been diagnosed as an adult, I cannot imagine what it’s like to be diagnosed with the disorder as a child. How will their self-identity be shaped when they’ve already been given a label that very well may stick with them for a lifetime? How do you grow up when parents and others have decided that you’re mentally ill? Can we really know if someone is mentally ill when his/her brain hasn’t even developed fully?

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