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Children afflicted with mood disorders often are misdiagnosed at least once since many of these disorders have similar and/or overlapping symptoms. Mood disorders are treatable, but finding the right medication or combination of medications can be a time-consuming, scary process.

My son was diagnosed with first oppositional defiant disorder, then depression, then anxiety disorder, then bipolar disorder. When this last diagnosis came up, we sought a second opinion from the head of the psychiatric unit at All Childrenís Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida. The doctor concurred, but noted that other juvenile onset mood disorders can look very similar to bipolar disorder, and that the diagnosis of bipolar disorder cannot be 100 percent confirmed until adulthood (early to mid-twenties).

In his early 20s, my son researched his symptoms and concluded he had anxiety disorder rather than bipolar disorder. After a re-evaluation of his symptoms, his psychiatrist concurred. Today, my son takes medication for anxiety disorder and is a successful college student.

Two books in particular helped my husband and me during my sonís adolescence:

The Defiant Child: A Parent's Guide to Oppositional Defiant Disorder by Douglas Riley (Paperback - Jan 25, 1997)

The Bipolar Child: The Definitive and Reassuring Guide to Childhood's Most Misunderstood Disorder -- Third Edition by Demitri Papolos M.D. and Janice Papolos (Paperback - Oct 2, 2007)

The following hot links also can be of help to parents of children diagnosed with a mood disorder:

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Anxiety Disorders Association of America

Attention Deficit Disorder Association

Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation

Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorders

Depressive and Bipolar Support Alliance

Juvenile Bipolar Research Foundation

National Alliance for the Mentally Ill

National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression

National Association of School Psychologists

National Institute of Mental Health Publications

National Mental Health Association

Obsessive-Compulsive Foundation

The Bipolar Child

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