Misdiagnosis: Bipolar Disorder Or Drug Toxicity?

Our bipolar disorder boom is far from over. This is illustrated by an article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal , Bipolar disorder often misdiagnosed, that would misconstrue matters even farther.

[Betty] Smith is one of the 2.5 million Americans affected by bipolar disorder every year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. The mental illness, marked by extreme changes in mood and behavior, is typically diagnosed before the age of 20, with more than two-thirds of patients having at least one close relative with the illness or with unipolar major depression. The disorder is found in all races, ethnic groups and social classes.

Gender bias in diagnosing? I have no doubt that this could be alleviated by putting more doctors on the couch.

While both men and women are just as likely to develop the disorder, statistics and studies show there are gender biases in diagnosing it. According to a 2000 report from the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, women are far more likely to be misdiagnosed with depression and men are far more likely to be misdiagnosed with schizophrenia.

These men and women so “misdiagnosed” are later misdiagnosed with the bipolar disorder label.

Realizing the distinction is important because, [internist Stacey] Weiland says, medication for bipolar and depression vary greatly. In addition, treating a person who has bipolar with a common anti-depressant medication like an SSRI, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, can actually bring about a major manic episode.

The presumption here is that if the drug triggered this manic episode, the person must have been a person with bipolar disorder in the first place. This is presumption on the part of the doctors making it. A certain number of the people first labeled depressive, and given anti-depressants, have manic reactions to those drugs. This percentage represents an increase in the overall number of people labeled bipolar. This increase came about through the use of anti-depressants and it didn’t come about through any contagiousness of the “disease”. How, after all, can a disorder be contagious that is thought to be hereditary in origin?

Before 1995, children were rarely diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Between 1994 and 2003, there was a 40-fold increase in the number of children being diagnosed with bipolar disorder — from 20,000 to 800,000.

Emphasis added.

Many professionals are saying that what was diagnosed as bipolar disorder in children was actually chronic irritability, and they are considering giving this chronic irritability an altogether new label, Temper Dysregulation Disorder with Dysporia, in the next issue of the DSM. All indications are that this TDD will make the revision slated for publication in 2013. What this addition disregards is the fact that this juvenile bipolar boom began when children labeled ADHD were relabeled with an early onset bipolar disorder label. What started as 2 “mental illness” labels has, given tremendous help by the APA, mutated into 3 “mental illness” labels.

It looks like childhood bipolar disorder is here to stay, joined to the relatively new “mental illness” cash cow ADHD, and soon to be supplemented with the additional “mental illness” label Temper Dysregulation Disorder with Dysporia. Considering these factors, I think it would be safe to say that once rare childhood “mental disorder” has a very great future indeed. Perhaps you would see this circumstance as an improvement; I myself think this is going to prove detrimental to our children’s overall health.

The real problem here is actually not “mental illness” at all, it’s drug toxicity. When you’ve got a large number of people chemically unbalanced by prescription pharmaceuticals, the way to health is by getting people off drugs. Many of our nation’s mental health professionals have unfortunately not made this connection, and so people get caught in the revolving treatment door, and our country’s growing mental health crisis continues to escalate.