Category Archives: Bipolar Disorder

Children with ADHD at Risk for Bullying and Self Harm

Children with ADHD at Risk for Bullying and Self Harm ADHD experts have long known that children, teens and adults with ADHD are at increased risk for bullying at school, work and even at home. Unfortunately, a recent study showed children bullied by peerswhen they are younger are up to three times more likely to harm themselves in adolescence.” Researchers followed 1,116 sets of twins from 1994 to 1995 until their twelfth birthday and discovered almost 8% of those who were victims of frequent bullying deliberated tried to harm themselves. In contrast, only 2% of those who were not bullied tried self-harming behaviors. Observed self-harming behaviors included: Attempted suicide by strangulation Cutting arms Biting body parts Banging their head against walls And pulling out clumps of hair. In our practice, we have seen kids who deliberated excessively tattooed parts of their body as a result of the stress of being bullying. One teenage girl told me she had done so in hopes her tormentors would leave her alone because they would think she was crazy. Another bully-abused teen in our practice explained he tattooed his arms to keep from “slicing and dicing them with my knife.”  His tattoos… Read the rest

Diabetes Risk in ADHD Children Treated with Atypical Antipsychotics

ADHD children treated with atypical antipsychotics and antidepressants for depression or other behavior disorders are at greater risk for developing diabetes mellitus. While atypical antipsychotics are traditionally used to treat schizophrenia, I’ve found more and more doctors using them to treat bipolar disorder, agitated depression, anxiety associated with depression, major depressive disorder, oppositional behavior disorder, conduct disorder, and obsessive-compulsive behavior disorder. It’s currently estimated in excess of 40 children per 1000 children in the U.S. are being treated for one of the above behavior problem diagnoses using second generation (atypical) antipsychotics. This number has increased dramatically since 1996 at which point only about 9 out of 1000 kids ages 5 to 18 years were exposed to these drugs. Unfortunately, with increasing use of atypical antipsychotics and antidepressants, significant side effects of these medications are starting to pop up-the most concerning being diabetes mellitus or sugar diabetes. A new study released in the December issue of the medical journal Pediatrics showed a four-fold increased risk of diabetes among children exposed to atypical antipsychotics and a little less in those treated with antidepressants. While the study doesn’t well-define the exact number of children, who develop diabetes as a result of exposure… Read the rest

Diagnosis of ADHD-Drugs that cause ADHD Misdiagnosis

Diagnosis of ADHD-Drugs that cause ADHD Misdiagnosis Many drugs, both over-the-counter and prescription can cause signs and symptoms of ADHD that might confuse accurate diagnosis and lead to misdiagnosis of ADHD and other behavior disorders. One such drug has recently been the topic of a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) safety alert-Valproate-a medication used for treatment of seizures and bipolar disorder-depression.  The FDA issued a safety announcement about valproate based on a 10-year study that confirmed that “fetal exposure to valproate impairs IQ well into childhood.” It appears women who took valproate during pregnancy delivered children who later had significantly lower intelligence quotients (IQs) than children who had never been exposed to the drug. In addition, the effects on the unborn child’s future IQ were directly related to the dose of valproate taken by the pregnant mom-the lower the dose, the less the decrease in IQ. This data supports the beliefs of many ADHD experts-that a child’s neurodevelopmental well-being is often determined by what the mother is exposed to both before and during her pregnancy. Valproate isn’t the only drug that might cause future learning problems in unborn children. And…if a drug causes any type… Read the rest

Teens with bipolar disorder can act just like ADHD

Teens with bipolar disorder can act just like ADHD In this post, I’d like to share a review I did last week on a book written by a talented young lady, Karen Winters Schwartz. Karen does an excellent job of describing teenage bipolar disorder and allows us glimpses at how it can act just like and be mistaken for ADHD and cause ADHD misdiagnosis! You can find the book on and Barnes& ( Review: Where are the Cocoa puffs? Wow!  Karen Winters Schwartz has done something I have yet to see in almost thirty years of practice. In “Where are the cocoa puffs”, she allows the reader to vividly and clearly experience what therapists refer to as “the emotional rollercoaster from hell”-teenage bipolar disorder. She adeptly describes and renders the terrible truths of the disease; that bipolar disorder doesn’t just affect and disable the bipolar teen, but often brings his or her family intense pain and suffering and sometimes pushes them into what they call “a living nightmare”. Her descriptions of guilt, hopelessness, anger, hate, frustration, and despair are right on target as many parents and siblings of bipolar teens and adults truly experience all of these emotions when… Read the rest

ADHD Misdiagnosis and Screening for Teen Depression

As we discussed earlier, teens are particularly prone to depression because of peer-parent-teacher pressure to mature faster, earlier or for “whatever reason”; the stressors of middle school to high school transitions; and their need to “find themselves”. These are really just a few reasons that a teen might become depressed and most experts agree that whatever the cause of depression, earlier detection and treatment translates into better results and outcomes. With these thoughts in mind, our goal in depressing teen depression should be to use the best screening tool to prevent your behavior-disordered teen from suffering ADHD misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment. One of the easiest to use screening questionnaires, the “Patient Health Questionnaire 9” (PHQ9) may be used to effectively screen teens for signs and symptoms of depression. It is very useful in detecting major depression in adolescents and should be used in evaluating all behavior problem pre-teens and teens. The PHQ9 can be completed in just a few minutes, used on multiple occasions to assess the presence or severity of depression, and allows for scoring severity based on how often symptoms occur. Here are examples of the questions asked on the PHQ9 based on how frequently the symptoms occur… Read the rest

Teen Depression may be Misdiagnosed as ADHD

  Teens have many reasons to become depressed: The transition from middle school to high school requires dramatic emotional, social and academic changes They receive pressure from teachers and parents who expect them to become more mature because they are now nearing adulthood Teens often struggle to “figure-out” who they are (their identity), why they are (a purpose in life), and how they fit into society (self-esteem and self-value). As a result of all of these pressures, teens are particularly prone to depression and anxiety. Often, they will try to hide the most obvious symptoms of sadness, crying, fatigue, problems sleeping and appetite changes. But… aren’t able to suppress irritability, mood swings, inattentiveness and impulsivity-all symptoms of ADHD.  These signs and symptoms might cause ADHD misdiagnosis and lead to inappropriate ADHD treatment and drugs, when in fact the teen really needs therapy for depression. How do we diagnose depression in teens? A screening questionnaire, the “Patient Health Questionnaire 9” may be used to screen teens for signs and symptoms of depression. It has been shown to be highly effective in detecting major depression in adolescents and should be used in evaluating all behavior problem pre-teens and teens. In my next… Read the rest

Diagnosing and Treating Teen Depression

       In our last post, we discussed some of the signs of teenage depression that are often confused with ADHD, such as poor concentration and social –self-esteem problems. Before we cover today’s topic: Diagnosing and Treating Teen Depression, I’d like to tell you about Gracie. I’m sure you know a kid just like Gracie. There seems to be a 10 year-old Gracie in every school…. Gracie’s mom explained why her teacher thought she was ADHD – Gracie couldn’t focus. She just didn’t pay attention in class and had terrible grades…because she often forgot to do her homework or forgot to bring it in. Her teacher and mom agreed; Gracie wasn’t impulsive, but got frustrated so often that she would cry and become disruptive “at the drop of a hat”! She had few friends and those who “stuck by her” seemed to avoid her most of the time. Gracie was treated for ADHD for about six months before I did her evaluation. She just wasn’t getting better on 3 different ADHD drugs. Gracie had been misdiagnosed as ADHD when she was really suffering from depression. So… how did we make the correct diagnosis? I discovered what was bothering Gracie,… Read the rest
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