Pediatric Bipolar Depression Disorder [FOR]

Pediatric bipolar disorder has always been controversial. Pediatric bipolar disorder was previously considered a rare occurrence but the rates of diagnosis and treatment of bipolar disorders in children and adolescents has soared in the recent years (Weeks and Spratling, 2018)

One of the main issues in pediatric bipolar disorder is  how to diagnose it properly. Pediatric bipolar depression disorder has not been distinguished in the DSM-5 criteria from the diagnosis of bipolar disorder in adults. Adult criteria have been used to diagnose bipolar disorder in children. According to the American Psychiatric Association (2013). The DSM-5 criteria for bipolar disorder is the same regardless of the age of the patient at the onset of the symptoms. Most adults with bipolar disorder report that their first symptoms occurred during their adolescence (Thapar et al;  2015).

The increasing rate of diagnosis of pediatric bipolar depression disorder suggests there is a requirement of diagnosing the children with symptoms of bipolar disorder(Thapar et al;  2015).  The disease interferes with the children’s functioning, hence it is imperative to diagnose pediatric bipolar disorder to enhance their well being. It has also been identified that children with parents diagnosed with bipolar disorder are at high risk of developing the disease(Wiggins et al, 2017).

The diagnosis of bipolar depression disorder in children has some challenges. Children and adolescents find it difficult to verbalize their emotions, and symptoms can have different meanings based on the developmental level of the child (Mitchel et al, 2016). In many cases there is a high rate of comorbid psychiatric disorders such as attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder and oppositional defiant disorder In pediatric bipolar disorder, often children with co-occurring disorders have overlapping symptoms of different diagnosis that make it challenging for clinicians to reach accurate diagnosis (Wiggins et al, 2017). As a result of this difficulty, the clinician is expected to do proper screening both to those who presented with the symptom and those who did not to be able to diagnose bipolar depression in children and adolescents.

The diagnosis of bipolar depression disorder is essential and possible by following the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria and examining associated problems to facilitate the formulation and implementation of an effective treatment plan(Renk et al; 2014)

Pediatric bipolar disorder must be diagnosed. Bipolar disorder affects children and adolescents as well as it affects adults. The impact of not diagnosing and treating this population affects their development process and functioning. When avoiding diagnosing a child with bipolar disorder, we may be potentially causing more harm than good.


American Psychiatric Association. (2013).Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders(5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Mitchell, R. H., Timmins, V., Collins, J., Scavone, A., Iskric, A., & Goldstein, B. I. (2016). waPrevalence and correlates of disruptive mood dysregulation disorder among adolescents with bipolar disorder.Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology,26(2), 147-153. doi:10.1089/cap.2015.0063

Renk, K., White, R., Lauer, B. A., McSwiggan, M., Puff, J., & Lowell, A. (2014). Bipolar disorder in children.Psychiatry Journal,2014, 928685. DOI:10.1155/2014/928685

Thapar, A., Pine, D. S., Leckman, J. F., Scott, S., Snowling, M. J., & Taylor, E. A. (2015).Rutter’s child and adolescent psychiatry(6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Blackwell.Wiggins, J. L., Brotman, M. A., Adleman, N. E., Kim, P., Wambach, C. G., Reynolds, R. C., … & Leibenluft, E. (2017). Neural markers in pediatric bipolar disorder and familial risk for bipolar disorder.Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry,56(1), 67-78. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0890856716318858

Weeks, G., & Spratling, R. (2018). Pediatric Bipolar Disorder: A Case Presentation and  Discussion.Journal of Pediatric Health Care,32(2), 201-206.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pedhc.2017.09.001