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Bipolar Kids: You Read It Here First

Neuroskeptic iconNeuroskeptic
By Neuroskeptic
Jun 17, 2011 4:25 PMNov 5, 2019 12:15 AM


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Last year, I discussed the controvery over the proposed new childhood syndrome of "Temper Disregulation Disorder with Dysphoria" (TDDD). It may be included in the upcoming revision of the psychiatric bible, DSM-V.

Back then, I said:

TDDD has been proposed in order to reduce the number of children being diagnosed with pediatric bipolar disorder... many people agree that pediatric bipolar is being over-diagnosed.

So we can all sympathize with the sentiment behind TDDD - but this is fighting fire with fire. Is the only way to stop kids getting one diagnosis, to give them another one? Should we really be creating diagnoses for more or less "strategic" purposes? Now, a bunch of psychiatrists have written to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry to express their concerns over the proposed diagnosis. They make the same point that I did:

We believe that the creation of a new, unsubstantiated diagnosis in order to prevent misapplication of a different diagnosis is misguided and a step backward for the progression of psychiatry as a rational scientific discipline.

Although they go into much more detail in critiquing the evidence held up in favor of the idea of TDDD. They also point out that it is rather optimistic to think, as some people apparantly do, that if we were to diagnose kids with TDDD, as opposed to childhood bipolar, we'd save them from getting nasty bipolar medications.

As they say, the risk is that drug companies would just get their drugs licensed to treat TDDD instead. Same drugs, different label. It would be fairly easy: just for starters, there are plenty of sedative drugs, such as atypical antipsychotics, which would certainly alter or mask the "symptoms" of TDDD, in the short term. Doing a clinical trial and showing that these drugs "work" would be easy. It wouldn't mean they actually worked, or that TDDD actually existed.

They also point out that the public perception of child psychiatry has already been harmed by the proposal of TDDD, and would suffer further if it were to become official.

Well, of course it would, and quite rightly so. That would be a sign that child psychiatry is so out of control that, literally, the only way it can stop diagnosing children, is to diagnose them with something else!

The same issue of the the same journal features another paper, claiming that "pediatric bipolar disorder" has a prevalence rate of 1.8%, and that rates of diagnosis of childhood bipolar are not higher in the USA than elsewhere, contrary to popular belief based on evidence.

Their data are a bunch of epidemiological studies on bipolar disorder. One of which included children up to the age of...21. The majority included kids of 17 or 18.

So, er, not children at all, then.

The older the "children" in the study, the more bipolar that study found. Everyone knows that bipolar disorder typically starts in late adolescence. That's the orthodoxy and it has been since Kraepelin. It's right there at the top of the Wikipedia page. That's not pediatric bipolar, that's just normal bipolar.

All the recent controversy is about bipolar in children. As in, like, 8 year olds. Yet this paper is still titled "

The senior author on this paper also signed the paper criticizing TDDD.

Meta-analysis of epidemiologic studies of pediatric bipolar disorder"


This, then, is the state of the debate over the future of our children.

P.S. I've just noticed that in the latest draft of DSM-V, TDDD has been renamed. It's now called "DMDD". What's next? DUDD? DEDD? P-DIDDY ?

Axelson DA, Birmaher B, Findling RL, Fristad MA, Kowatch RA, Youngstrom EA, Arnold EL, Goldstein BI, Goldstein TR, Chang KD, Delbello MP, Ryan ND, & Diler RS (2011). Concerns regarding the inclusion of temper dysregulation disorder with dysphoria in the DSM-V The Journal of clinical psychiatry PMID: 21672494

Van Meter AR, Moreira AL, & Youngstrom EA (2011). Meta-analysis of epidemiologic studies of pediatric bipolar disorder. The Journal of clinical psychiatry PMID: 21672501

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