Bipolar Disorder

The reality of bipolar disorder is unclear. The syndrome is ill-defined, and it is far from obvious how much of the increase in diagnoses of bipolar disorder reflects a broadening of the concept, a loosening of the criteria for diagnosing it.

Through the 1990s, research scientists — many of them supported by drugmakers — expanded the definition of the disorder [bipolar disorder], describing “sub-syndromes” and permutations like bipolar II and “hypomania.” By the 2000s, doctors were diagnosing the condition in groups of people who had never been identified before, mostly young children — leading to thousands of children being unnecessarily treated with strong psychiatric drugs. ...
“I remember being at a psychiatric association event where Carrie Fisher was interviewed, and people were beginning to talk about the imperialism of bipolar,” how the diagnosis was expanding beyond its bounds, said David Miklowitz, a professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles. He added, “I think doctors are much more careful now, in being sure they’re diagnosing the real thing.”

The American Psychiatric Association’s latest diagnostic manual discourages applying the label to young children. ...
“The case has really been built on sand,” Dr. Schlesinger said. “It’s been oversold.” She added, “Every course of bipolar is different, there is no one progression, no one symptomology, no one cure, so the effects are very individual.”
- Benedict Carey, Carrie Fisher Put Pen and Voice in Service of ‘Bipolar Pride’, NYT, Dec. 28, 2016

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