An irritable, inattentive, and disruptive child: Is it ADHD or bipolar disorder?

Differentiating the irritable, oppositional child with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) from the child with bipolar disorder (BD) often is difficult. To make matters more complicated, 50% to 70% of patients with BD have comorbid ADHD.1,2 Accordingly, clinicians are often faced with the moody, irritable, dis­ruptive child whose parents want to know if he (she) is “bipolar” to try to deal with oppositional and mood behaviors.

In this article, we present an approach that will help you distinguish these 2 disorders from each other.

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