This is alarming: the New York Times has an article about a new study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, which shows that the number of under 20s diagnosed with bipolar disorder has increased 40-fold (from 25 to 1003 per 100,000) between 1994 and 2003:
Bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme mood swings. Until relatively recently, it was thought to emerge almost exclusively in adulthood. But in the 1990s, psychiatrists began looking more closely for symptoms in younger patients.
Some experts say greater awareness, reflected in the increasing diagnoses, is letting youngsters with the disorder obtain the treatment they need.
Other experts say bipolar disorder is overdiagnosed. The term, the critics say, has become a catchall applied to almost any explosive, aggressive child.
After children are classified, the experts add, they are treated with powerful psychiatric drugs that have few proven benefits in children and potentially serious side effects like rapid weight gain.