Guest Author - Karen Huber
Your Child Does Not Have Bipolar Disorder took me a long time to read; however, it was worth it. It is written in an academic style and geared towards professionals and lay people that have an intense interest in pediatric bipolar disorder.
Dr. Kaplan is very thorough with his evidence of studies as he presents his argument against childhood bipolar disorder. He does not leave anything out of his opinions and professionally presents the reasons why diagnosis of this disorder greatly expanded in the last two decades. He effectively presents an alternative diagnosis, gives specific examples, and suggests treatment for them. He also suggests why some parents do not want to treat ADHD with pharmaceuticals and how this affects their children. He describes the similar symptoms of different diagnoses and conditions and gives examples of his own specific treatments for each in the ending chapters.
Dr. Kaplan's credentials, professor of psychiatry at Penn State College of Medicine, has board certification in child and adolescent psychiatry, allowing him to challenge popular views of pediatric bipolar disorder and guide parents to understand diagnoses of mood disorders and aggressive behaviors. Many parents, teachers, and therapists seem to want a quick, catchall group with which to categorize children with antisocial behaviors, and Dr. Kaplan explains the effect this has on untreated or wrongly diagnosed children. He challenges leading mental health therapists and backs his evidence with a convincing presentation of facts and figures that are given to the public. Your Child Does Not Have Bipolar Disorder informed me about other mental health conditions in addition to bipolar disorder, specifically, oppositional defiant disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and adult bipolar disorder. This is an excellent learning book. Dr. Kaplan also explains how these conditions are defined and explained in the DSM-IV. He says that many studies group children and adolescents together; this affects statistics that the public sees.
Chapter one describes adult bipolar disorder and the DSM System of diagnostics. Chapter two describes pediatric bipolar disorder in depth and explains the difference between it and the two conditions it is most commonly confused with, ADHD and ODD. Chapter three reviews studies and causes of pediatric bipolar disorder that support Dr. Kaplan's assertion that bipolar disorder is not present in children under 12 years of age. Chapter four explains the how cultures influence shape mental illness, how the media and professionals have supported the diagnosis of pediatric bipolar disorder, and the consequences of misdiagnosis on children. Chapter five introduces child and adolescent depression, its symptoms, and coexistence with other disorders, while chapter six acknowledges the existence of adolescent bipolar disorder along with its misdiagnosis.
Part two of the book discusses the merits of three medications for bipolar disorder, slanted clinical trials, and how they contribute to public misinformation and diagnostic errors. Dr. Kaplan discusses stimulant medications used to treat ADHD, the Multimodal Treatment of ADHD study undertaken in the later 1990s, and its findings. I understood that he felt that ADHD was the main condition that is mistaken for pediatric bipolar disorder. Dr. Kaplan is very much in favor of treating ADHD with stimulants because of the improvement in behavior and life circumstances that children enjoy with a correct diagnosis and treatment.
Dr. Kaplan ended the book with, what I thought, was the best part: treatment advice for parents. This came from his own practice and included thoughts on stimulant and antipsychotic medications. He outlines the four stages of his Family Based Behavior Modification Program for Oppositional Children and explains family dynamic considerations and the therapist's role in supportive family therapy.
I was fortunate to be able to review of free copy of the book; thank the author for allowing me to review it.