While researchers have not been able to point out a definitive why, it is clear that depression and teenage bipolar disorder is rising at a rapid rate. According to the Centers for Disease Control depression and related depressive disorders like teenage bipolar disorder strikes as many as 8.3% of teens in the United States, and that number continues to steadily increase.
A recent research study in Pediatrics examined psychosocial issues in thousands of children aged 4 to 15 during visits to pediatricians or family doctors for common health concerns. The study found significant increases in reports of emotional problems, including depression and anxiety, among both the children and teenagers. The study also found that among teenagers bipolar disorder and depression are clearly connected, as with adults. Within five years of experiencing a major depression, 20% to 40% of teenagers move on to develop teenage bipolar disorder.
In another report published in a recent issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, it was noted that the number of patients under the age of 20 who are being treated with anti-psychotic drugs is steadily rising, and that would include medication being prescribed for teenagers for the treatment of depression and bipolar disorder. According to the published report “The number of outpatient visits during which patients aged under 20 years received anti-psychotic medications increased six-fold between 1993 and 2002.”
Furthermore, clinicians at Bradley Hospital, a psychiatric hospital for children and adolescents, recently found that bipolar disorder is more common than expected in teens in a psychiatric inpatient setting. “In the past, mental health professionals thought that about 1 percent of teens were bipolar. Our research indicates that if a strict definition of the illness is applied, up to 20 percent of adolescents on psychiatric units may be manic-depressive,” said Jeffrey Hunt, M.D., a child psychiatrist at Bradley Hospital.
Again, we are unsure why these numbers keep rising at an unbelievable rate but some theorize that it has a connection to the current stresses that teens face in today’s world. The pressure a teen must overcome could be leading to greater development of teenage bipolar, and ultimately damaging the future of all our children. Although unsure now, scientists in the mental health field are struggling to find the answers to our newly found problem with teenage bipolar disorder.