Online Store   |   Advertising   |   Print Page   |   Contact Us   |   Report Abuse   |   Sign In   |   Join
Share |

Is Bipolar Illness Overdiagnosed in Children?


Treatment for the extreme emotional outbursts seen in some children may benefit more from family therapy than from psychopharmacology, according to the American Psychiatric Association.

“Office-based visits with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder for youth have risen 40 times in 10 years, from 25 per 100,000 in 1994-95 to 1,003 per 100,000 in 2002-03,” said Allan Josephson, MD, at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in New York in October. Josephson is  CEO of the Bingham Child Guidance Center.

Bipolar disorder does exist in children and adolescents and may well have been underdiagnosed in the past. However, some irritable, explosive children are lumped into the bipolar category, possibly because no other label seems to fit, said discussant Gabrielle Carlson, MD, of Stony Brook University School of Medicine in New York.
Other researchers have proposed a diagnosis of “severe mood dysregulation” for these children, who are characterized by chronic irritability, hyperarousal, and hyper-reactivity, but not the episodic manic symptoms typical of DSM-IV bipolar illness.

Diagnosing bipolar disorder as an explanation for this behavior “has also communicated the unhealthy idea that children’s behavioral problems lie outside the child’s or the family’s control,” said Josephson. “It changed the point of control from the child to ‘chemicals.’ That leads to misguided therapies, focusing on disease elements to the neglect of psychosocial aspects of development.”

Click here for more information.

AMHCA Partners with New Online Course Provider

Get a 10 percent discount on a wide range of online courses geared for mental health counselors from  AMHCA’s new partner,, which offers more than 120 online continuing education programs for mental health professionals.

Visit to see the course catalog, answers to frequently asked questions, information about CE credits, and more. To take advantage of the discount offered to AMHCA members, click here.

Updated AMHCA Leadership Directory Is Online

For a listing of the mental health counselors and committees that do the volunteer work at AMHCA in support of the profession of mental health counseling, check out or download AMHCA's 2010–2011 Leadership Directory.

You’ll find contact information for the 11-member board; the approximately 50 AMHCA members who serve on AMHCA’s eight committees; and the board of the AMHCA Foundation. 

Plus you’ll find the association’s liaisons to CACREP (The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs) and AASCB (the American Association of State Counseling Boards) and the editors of the Journal of Mental Health Counseling and The Advocate. 

The directory also includes the chairs and executive directors of AMHCA’s numerous state chapters, many of which have websites. To find your state chapter’s website, go to AMHCA’s homepage, click the “Member Resources” tab, and then “Connect with Chapters.”