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Out Growing Bipolar Disorder

A recent article in Science Daily, Young Adults May Outgrow Bipolar Disorder, claims University of Missouri researchers have found that nearly half of those people diagnosed as suffering from bipolar disorder at ages 18 to 25 may outgrow the disease by the time they reach the age of 30. Bipolar disorder has been traditionally thought of as a lifelong condition that is inherited, and so this discovery is bound to come as a surprise to a lot of people entangled in the matter.

By examining the results of two large national surveys, MU researchers found an “age gradient” in the prevalence of bipolar disorder, with part of the population appearing to outgrow the disorder. In the survey results, 5.5 to 6.2 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 24 suffer from bipolar disorder, but only about 3 percent of people older than 29 suffer from bipolar disorder.

I’m thinking that it may be a little premature to take these findings too seriously. The bipolar disorder rate has skyrocketed since some time in the 1990’s when the trend of diagnosing children once thought to have ADHD as being in the early stages of bipolar disorder was gaining ground. Some of these more recently diagnosed bipolar disorder cases have probably not reached the age of 30 yet.

Then there could be a little something to this suggestion…

While some scholars suggest that the difference could be due to discounting factors such as early mortality, the sheer number of those who are recovering rules out this possibility, (Professor Kenneth J.) Sher said.

One could also argue that some of those bearing a bipolar disorder diagnosis, who have recovered, actually never had bipolar disorder in the first place; maybe it was ADHD, or what have you.

Personally I feel the distinction between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder exists mostly in the minds of the psychiatrists making such diagnoses, and in the minds of the gulled and compliant mental patients who listen to them. Given a change of circumstances then, as bad circumstances are often what get people into the hospital in the first place, my attitude is that anyone can outgrow a serious mental illness if they set their mind to it.

Is he or she truly bonkers, or is he or she just going through a phase? Look again. Maybe the second possibility really does apply!