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Bipolar Disorder (Children and Adolescents)

Using Machines to Diagnose Bipolar Disorder

12/07/2005

Question:

My son has been told he may be bipolar, but without going into details I need to confirm this and was wondering if an examination of the brain will show anything?

Answer:

Hello, Thank you for excellent question regarding the use of brain-scans in diagnosing children/teens with bipolar disorder. Currently, research on this area is in its infancy, despite some exceptional work by people like Dr. Melissa DelBello of the Cincinnati Children's Hospital. In fact, right now no child/teen psychiatric diagnoses can be reliably made with a brain-scan alone, not even ADHD. The best approach to diagnosing bipolar disorder in children/teens is via an evidence-based (researched) detailed (measures specific to mania and depression) and comprehensive (i.e., covers all the possible DSM-IV psychiatric disorders) assessment using information from parents, children/teen and teachers.

If you doubt the diagnosis (and as a mental health consumer, you have the right to do so) ask the clinician how he/she arrived at their diagnosis and what approach they used.

I hope my answer is helpful. Best wishes.

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Response by:

Nicholas   Lofthouse, PhD Nicholas Lofthouse, PhD
Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University