The Long Battle to Rethink Mental Illness in Children

Susan Resko, The Balanced Mind Parent Network Executive Directorby Susan Resko, The Balanced Mind Parent Network Executive Director

Please be sure to read an important article on the front page of the Wall Street Journal today entitled, "The Long Battle to Rethink Mental Illness in Children" which includes quotes from The Balanced Mind Parent Network families, and Executive Director Susan Resko.

The article analyzes the proposed diagnosis for children, Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder, or DMDD. While there is not yet a treatment protocol, The Balanced Mind Parent Network believes the inclusion of the new diagnosis in the upcoming DSM-V will benefit our children in terms of increased research and attention. We have been in contact with the American Psychiatric Association workgroup for several years and you can read our position here and here. I encourage you to share your thoughts in the comments section below so I can send them back to the workgroup. The final decision on whether to include the diagnosis in the DSM-V is pending.

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The author of the article, Shirley Wang, conveys her thanks to all The Balanced Mind Parent Network parents who shared their stories with her. 

On behalf of our children and a brighter future,

Susan Resko
Executive Director

 

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I was thrilled to read that a new diagnosis is being considered as it fits my son perfectly. He was diagnosed with ADHD and a "possible mood disorder" at 5 which was changed to Bipolar NOS at age 11. He does not quite fit the bipolar definition because he does not exhibit the mania. He is angry, depressed, irritated, sad, mad etc all the time. (at least it feels like it :)) The term bipolar is so overused these days -bipolar weather for weeks that have hot and cold days for instance- that I would love to have a more clinical, accurate term for what our family experiences every day.

My concern would be that until it is official, DMDD would not be convered under special ed protocols at school. The bipolar diagnosis affords us great support and help from our school. I have never been afraid to talk about my son's diagnosis as I want everyone who meets him to understand and love him for who he is. Thank you to the Balanced Mind Foundation for all the hard work you do advocating for families like mine!!
God bless you

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It is becoming more and more important to catch this when your child is young. If it is not dealt with until they are in the teen years, serious damage can be done that may take years to recover from. I see this on a daily basis with the family's that I counsel. I am no expert on it, but it can have serious lasting effects.

Regards,
Austin Walker
Mental Health Counselor

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This is an important article. We must learn something from this. We must always look after our children's health. Mainly on their mental health. which is very most important. We must always provide healthy food which enriches it's mental power.dr note

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im not sure if my 5yr old daughter would fall under being bipolar im just a very concerned single mom with my daughters sudden mood changes towards me..shell be happy and loving and with in minutes shes telling me how much she hates me..she hardly wakes up in a good mood..i have to work a lot and seperated from her father idk if she just needs attention or if bipolar can be diagnosed as young as she is..its mostly aggression towards me...im running out of things and ways to come about the situation...she wasnt always like this she started about 3months ago and it seem to be getting worse...idk what to do..i just want my sweet little girl back:""(

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Mentally ill children should be treated with care and love.They should not be abandoned by any reason. All they need is affection and support by their family members.

HP 83

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people would be more compassionate if a friend had shared their struggles, it will give us more hope and faith.

_________
baby shower cake

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Here is an article that was referenced in the comments to the Wall Street article. The research article relates Autism to High Fructose Corn Syrup. http://www.clinicalepigeneticsjournal.com/content/4/1/6#sec9

From our experience, a better approach than precise diagnostic labels and psychiatric drugs, would be to start with what is called the CAM approach on this web site. To me, It is far better to start with a comprehensive assessment of food sensitivities, chemicals in the diet, metabolic functioning, nutritional levels, intestinal yeasts and intestinal bacteria.

There is a lot of research out there on numerous different aspects of CAM. It is not new nor untested. There are tons of success stories, including our daughter and my wife. It is time to get past professional prejudices and accept CAM as real treatments. Now is the time to push it into the mainstream and start treating root causes of our children's disease. In addition to being effective, CAM approaches are almost without side effects.

Save the psychiatric meds for emergency stabilization and after all other efforts have failed.

Brian
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Daughter 8 BP/violent rages. Unsuccessful with multiple meds. Now practically stable using a nutritional approach. It is nice to see her smile and play happy. EMPowerPlus, AminoPowerplus, NAC, Q10, melatonin, inositol, vitamin D, vitamin C, probiotics, Candex, and now phosphitidyl choline. Diet: mostly meat, eggs, veggies, nuts and limited fruit. No dairy, wheat, rice, corn, soy , grains of any kind, vegetable or corn oil, processed sugar, starchy foods, food colorings, food preservatives, chemical names on the label, caffeine (chocolate), nor "natural flavorings". Loves home-made non-dairy ice cream.
Son (6) Normal. Same diet and similar supplements.
Wife (CathyK now also on TBMF) BP, on same diet and similar supplements & drastically reduced meds.
Me same diet and supplements, with hopes to prevent Alzheimer's and ALS.

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I, too, am glad the word "temper" was taken out of the proposed name. Ridiculous that people still think our kids are just unruly and that behavior modification alone will do the trick.

My son's mood diagnosis is Mood Disorder-NOS (secondary to a medical disorder: PANDAS with obsessive compulsive features, tics, rage, and other associated features in the literature with PANDAS),

My son does have mania, so I'm not sure DMDD would be an appropriate diagnosis for him, also it's not clear to me if DMDD can be secondary to a medical diagnosis or not. Can it?

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Kristen

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I know my child is basically a guinea pig - none of our meds are approved for use on children. Her symptoms certainly meet the criteria in all the books about juvenile bi-poloar. But even with the cocktail of meds her doctor has her on, we feel like we're walking on eggshells all the time. I don't know that having another label is going to help when there is no standard treatment to accompany it. I'd feel much better about a new disease if a specific doctor had suggested it based on his treatment of children - like Hans Asperger. The idea that a committee is making up a disease just to fit in their book doesn't sit well with me. However, I do agree that much more research and study needs to be done in this area and all we're doing right now is guessing. Our kids deserve better, and so do we.
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HSnana to Kirstin, 14, asperger and Madison, 13, bipolar

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I am very glad to see they have taken the word "temper" out of the diagnosis. I am not sure how I feel about the word "disruptive" though. It still sounds too much like mis-behaving. While I understand that the disruption is to the child's life (and the family etc.), it could be misconstrued by the uninformed as the child who disrupts class, etc. It just makes me think about the behavior and not the ilness. I would prefer to see a word like "severe" vs. "disruptive". I am very interested to see how this new term DMDD is actually described. I wonder if it would describe my 14 year old's constellation of symptoms better than the current descriptions of bipolar disorder. More importantly I hope any new attention to pediatric mood illnesses will lead to better treatment options for the children who suffer. My son's symptoms began to become evident essentially since birth, and he was mis-diagnosed, mis-medicated, and mis-managed for most of his life. Hospitalizations and removal from mainstream school, combined with unbearable instability, have thankfully taken a hiatus. I am happy to report that once we finally found the Pediatric Mood Disorder Clinic at UIC, stability began to become a light at the end of the tunnel. My son has been relatively stable for the last 2 1/2 years, but I realize that medication adjustments are a constant work in progress. I honestly don't know what we would do without them.

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I agree that the comments posted with the WSJ article are maddening. That our son has a genuine illness is clear because, to put it concisely: if he could [behave appropriately] he would. When he is well and stable he doesn't act like a spoiled brat, he does comply, he isn't violent, he is thoughtful, considerate, can concentrate, doesn't race through the house shreiking, can regulate his body temperature, has a regular appetite, sleeps without nightmares, doesn't make death threats or suicide attempts and gets along at home just as well as everyone else does. When he isn't well the opposite is true. The symptoms are severe, irrational, and not influenced by discipline (especially the old fashioned kind). Our other son has no issues. Same parents, same house, same school, lots of love and attention and so on.

Any research and help for our kids is welcome.

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Family hx depression
Me - Prozac, Welbutrin
DH-Welbutrin
ds-10 BP, True Hope (8 per day), Fish Oil (2 per day), lithium orotate (OTC) (2 per day), 100 mg SAM-e, 100 mg Welbutrin, 2.5 mg Abilify, private mainstream school 5th Grade [previously tried lithium, depakote, seroquel, up to 15 mg Abilify, lexapro, trilleptal, prozac, neurontin, risperidone, lamictal, etc.]
ds-8, no issues, same school

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I just read the Journals article. What really floored me was the comments after. I am so angered and dumbfounded at the ignorance of so many people! These are readers of the Wall Street Journal that are supposedly "intelligent"? REALLY? It seems as if the majority of people are still blaming childhood mental illness on "lack of good parenting" and "parental quality time". I have 2 biolgical children and 3 adopted children. I was a stay at home mom. They all were a year a part in age. We had dinner around the family table every night. There were the same 2 parents for their enitire childhoods. However all THREE of my adopted children have mental illnesses of different degrees. My now 18 year old was hospitalized for a year and a half at age 13. Her older brother spent a year in childrens village and is now roaming the streets abusing drugs. Her younger brother has been kicked out of school too many times to count because of his explosive temper, usually because he was told "no" or teased by someone. My two biological children? Ones a 3rd year med student and the other has been married for 3 years and is a succesful computer programmer.
These people are going to honestly tell me that genes have nothing to do with mental illness? That its all parenting? As someone with a degree in mental health I can assure you I believed with all my heart nurturing,structure, boundary setting and love would blanket over any problems a child might have and help them become independent healthy adults. Boy, was I wrong.
I wish one of these "parent bashers" could spend a week in my shoes and then tell me it was all MY fault. ANY research into childhood mental illness is a blessing to me. If even one person reads the research and begins to understand just a little bit more about this issue I will be happy. Its gotta start somewhere.
When my daughter started displaying thoughts of granduer, delusions, sexual acting out, maniacal behavior and she had no friends at the ripe old age of 10, I knew something was seriously wrong. Don't dare tell me it's because I wasn't a good parent.

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I think I will skip the article, because if the comments upset you that much, I too will probably get angry. I am new to this site. I have two biological children, one with severe OCD that she has learned to live with and manage with yoga, some meds, and pouring herself into productive hobbies. The OCD child is 24 and she is successfully moving up in her career in biotechnology. Her 17 yr old brother however is out of control. He is bi-polar, and so was his father, and I wonder if I can continue to help him. I am 50 yrs old and I feel drained most of the time, when I am home with them. Damn right this is about genetics. I have some very unbalanced people on my side of the family, but not what I have had to cope with in my children. Their father hid his condition from me long enough to court me, and marry me, but once my daughter was born, it was clear that my husband could not, and would not ever function in the real world without a caretaker. He is brilliant and talented, but had a very dark angry side to him, and we divorced when my son was 3. I had to work to support all of us, and still do even though I remarried, and I agree, it was not my parenting, it is genetics. My son has not seen his father in 14 years, and has had but four or five phone conversations with him over the years, and yet, he acts just like him. I am living with proof positive that it is genetic.

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Renee, there are a lot of ignorant people in the world. One day, we will have bio markers for these illnesses such as brain scans or blood tests which will stiffle the nay-sayers. We are fighting a long history of erroneous beliefs that children's brains are somehow impervious to illness, unless it's caused by external forces such as abuse, bad parenting, or the proverbial " dropped on the head." Until that time, we as parents must fight that good fight by talking about these illnesses with our friends, family and colleagues. It's easy for these ignorant people to bash an idea with an anonymous Internet post, but I'll bet my bottom dollar that those insensitive people would be more compassionate if a friend had shared their struggles. I guarantee you they have friend who loves or cars for a child with mood disorders; they just don't know it because no one talks about it. Either that, or they are scientologists who don't believe in ANY pychiatric illness.

--

Susan Resko
Executive Director

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The biggest difference between my son's behavior when he was diagnosed BP-NOS at age 11 and the classic BP I or BP II symptoms was that his "mania" was characterized by only irritability and anger, not any elevated mood. He also displayed some rapid-cycling behavior with minute-by-minute changes from angry to severely depressed.

I don't know if the DMDD categorization would have been helpful for us, or for many others. Most of the time, the doctors seem to treat severe irritability with anti-psychotics at least for short-term relief of symptoms.

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