Over the last decade, the number of children diagnosed with bipolar disorder has increased up to fortyfold. This is a trend exclusive to the United States, and one that, alarmingly, leads to most of the diagnosed children—some still in their infancy—being prescribed antipsychotic drugs, often in combination with anticonvulsants. These classes of drugs have dangerous side effects, including a doubling of mortality rates, shortened life span, extreme weight gain, and Type II diabetes. In this book, psychologist Sharna Olfman leads a team of widely known experts who examine that astonishing rise in the diagnosis of pediatric bipolar disorder, particularly in the absence of any compelling evidence for either the validity of the criteria being used to diagnose it or the safety and effectiveness of the drugs being used to treat it. When a child is unnecessarily prescribed antipsychotic and anticonvulsant drugs, his or her mental and physical health may be irrecoverably compromised, says Olfman. With as many as two-and-a-half million children from across the socioeconomic spectrum now taking antipsychotics, we have set the stage for widescale child abuse.
The contributors to this revealing and disturbing volume include psychiatrist David Healy, one of the world’s leading authorities on psychotropic drugs; pediatrician Philip Landrigan, an internationally renowned health researcher; and Robert Whitaker, an award winning medical journalist. The contributors identify and explain complex and interrelated factors that have set the stage for the pediatric bipolar epidemic, and they recommend practice and policy changes to stem the tide of misdiagnosis and dangerous drug prescriptions.
Reviews"[P]rovocative and highly readable....Bipolar Children provides a reminder of the urgency of the question and warns of the weakness of current treatment approaches."—Journal of the American Medical Association, March 5, 2008
"This important and urgently needed volume of outstanding, but disturbing, essays, written by a group of eminent scholars and practitioners, sounds the alarm on a development in our society of Orwellian proportions. This incautious use of drugs also has the effect of obscuring, and thus leaving unaddressed, social and environmental factors in children's lives that may be the real source of their problems. The volume is a must-read for parents, and for professionals who work in areas that touch upon children's health and well-being."—Joel Bakan, Author of The Corporation, Professor of Law, University of British Columbia
"Thank you, Sharna Olfman! These comprehensive chapters expose a truly alarming twist on childhood in the 21st century. Parents, teachers, physicians, and therapists: Please take notice--and then take action!"—Jane M. Healy, Ph.D. Educational Psychologist and author of Your Child's Growing Mind: Brain Development and Learning from Birth to Adolescence
"An important, ground-breaking book exposing the devastating impact of corporations on children's mental health, from drug marketing's influences on diagnosis and treatment to the effect of toxic chemicals on brain development. A necessary read for health care professionals, policy makers, and parents."—Susan Linn, Ed.D. Author, Consuming Kids and Associate Director of the Media Center at Judge Baker Children's Center and Instructor in Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
"A shocking expose of wayward diagnostic and drug-prescription practices that do great harm to children, this book is essential reading for pediatricians, psychologists, social workers, lawmakers, educators, child development specialists, and others entrusted with the welfare of our youngest citizens. The contributors are an eminent cast of researchers and practitioners from diverse fields. The chapters are compellingly written, carefully documented, and enriched with many moving case examples. Bravo to editor Sharna Olfman for this powerful call to action!"—Laura E. Berk, Distinguished Professor of Psychology, Illinois State University