Yesterday’s problem kids suffer from oppositional defiant disorder; jittery boys have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. But when it comes to diagnosing children with psychiatric disorders, it’s not clear adults know what they’re talking about. From the New York Times:
Children can develop so fast that what looks like attention deficit disorder in the fall may look like anxiety or nothing at all in the summer. And the field is fiercely divided over some fundamental questions, most notably about bipolar disorder, a disease classically defined by moods that zigzag between periods of exuberance or increased energy and despair. Some experts say that bipolar disorder is being overdiagnosed, but others say it is too often missed.
Parents will accept a diagnosis they think is wrong if it gets their kid special help at school.