When Doctors Won’t Diagnose

London (01)

I regularly receive emails from parents of children experiencing emotional problems who are distraught because the psychologist or psychiatrist they are seeing won’t officially diagnose their child. When your child clearly isn’t well, you want to know what the condition is that’s making them unwell. That’s natural.

And this is a phenomenon that is almost exclusively an issue with young children and mental health disorders. You’d never see a doctor telling parents, “We found a tumor, but we won’t diagnose it as cancer,” or, “Your child is having grand mal seizures, but I can’t say it’s epilepsy.” But it is fairly common for a psychiatrist to tell a parent of a child exhibiting symptoms of mental illness, “I won’t officially diagnose your child with bipolar disorder.” And, as hard as that may be to hear, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Read the rest at S-O-S Research Blog.

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  • Sara Grambusch October 3, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    Thanks for the interesting link. It is a frustrating but complicated situation.

  • Jenifer October 9, 2011 at 1:30 am

    I agree. Actually, the DSM is what complicates things for the doctors so much, along with the overlap of disorder symptoms. They don't want to be wrong, and I don't blame them for that. It does create a certain amount of difficulty for families though, as you of course know, because insurance companies and government aid, schools, etc. all want to KNOW what the diagnosis is…and if it doesn't meet their criteria….you're out of luck….