by Hamid Tabatabai, M.D.
- 31May 2016
Diagnosis of Mood Disorders in Children
- You might have already figured this out: there are currently no medical tests (blood test, MRI, scans, EEG,…) to help psychiatrists with the diagnosis of their patients. The diagnosis and treatment of these disorders are still scientific but in a clinical sense, by using carefully taken history, observation, and long-term follow-up and reassessment.
- Some conditions are easier to diagnose and treat such as clear cases of ADHD, psychosis or simple depression.
- Other conditions, especially mood disorders (also called bipolar disorders) can be very difficult to diagnose. Their symptoms are different in each child and can also vary in presentation over time in the same child. Their treatment is also often very difficult. The same medication that works well in one child, may fail in another. When the medicine is effective, it may stop working few months later.
- For this reason, you may get different opinions and recommendations from different psychiatrists. Understandably, this leaves parents extremely frustrated and distrustful of psychiatrists.
Children with mood disorders can have temper tantrums, irritability, anxieties and insomnia. Their hyperactivity may seem like ADHD. Some children may have both conditions. As mentioned in the medication section, one has to be careful treating these children with stimulants.