The controversy over pediatric bipolar disorder has heated up over the past year. A recent study offers evidence for those favoring “narrow” criteria for the pedi- atric bipolar diagnosis. Researchers inter- viewed children brought into an NIMH treatment center, and classified 33 as hav- ing “narrow phenotype bipolar disorder” (meaning that they met standard DSM-4 criteria, including grandiose manic episodes) vs. 30 as having “severe mood dysregulation” (primary mood irritable, angry or sad, plus hyperarousal symptoms, plus frequent temper tantrums). Next, dif- ferent researchers interviewed parents of these children to see whether children with narrowly defined bipolar were more likely to have bipolar parents than chil- dren with severe mood dysregualtion. These interviewers were blind to the child’s diagnosis. The results? 33.3 % of parents of narrow bipolar kids were diag- nosed with bipolar disorder, vs. only 2.7% of parents of mood dysregulation kids.
TCPR’s Take: Since kids with narrow bipolar are about 10 times more likely to have a bipolar parent than kids with severe mood dysregulation, the implication is that severe mood dysregulation is less likely to be “true” bipolar disorder. However, it’s not clear how much this matters, since mood stabilizing medications are often
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