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!

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4 Responses

  1. […] good news is that, as in the Missouri studies showing that many bipolar cases dissipate before the age of 30 years, perhaps many of these young […]

  2. Whatever it is I’ve “got” I don’t want to outgrow it. That would be like asking a person to give up their hope that there might be decent people in the world.

  3. Does this study say whether they conducted their own diagnostic tests of the subjects? I didn’t see this mentioned in the article. If so, that would cancel out the fact that younger people are being diagnosed as bipolar more often.

    I think it is possible to outgrow many mental disorders, and we see it all the time.

    Adjusting for over-diagnosis and mis-diagnosis, it takes 10-15 years from onset of real symptoms for a person who actually is bipolar to get an accurate diagnoses. How many of those people may outgrow it in that time?

    How about all the highly-functional, happy “eccentric” people in the world? Most of them have some pretty shocking stories of what they were like in their youths. Are they the self-correcting mentally ill?

    I think it’s fantastic that someone is finally recognizing this in the media. We’ve known that some people do spontaneously recover for decades, but Big Pharma has always kept that fact hush-hush. Gee, wonder why.

    • Well, you may have noticed that responding to this study, and the 40 fold increase in bipolar disorder manufactured by the likes of Harvard’s Dr. Joseph Biederman, talk is about coming up with a new disorder for the DSM 5 somewhere between bipolar disorder and ADHD. This new disorder is TDD or Temper Dysregulation Disorder with Dysporia. Of course, if these kids are recovering, it can’t be bipolar disorder, or can it? Next question, why TDD? Oh, yeah. The insurance companies need something to bill for, and the drug companies need something to treat.

      I agree. People can and do recover from mental disorders, and some people recover completely.

      As for the 10-15 years it takes to correctly diagnose a disorder. I think all that is very silly. You’ve got people who go through many diagnoses in any number of years, but we’re not talking rocket science here, and we’re not talking exact science either. Draw a line in the sand between two groups of people, and call the one group schizophrenic, and the other group bipolar. What do you have in the end, but a line in the sand between two groups of human beings. Any one of these people can step over that line. As I have pointed out before, unlike almost any physical disease you can imagine, nobody has ever managed to isolate a mental illness on a microscope slide.

      Yeah, I’ve heard about some of these spontaneous recoveries, too, and what these spontaneous recoveries say is that maybe the disease wasn’t all it was cracked up to be in the first place.

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