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  • 12/13/2009

Bipolar Disorder in Children

bipolar disorder

What is bipolar disorder in children and teens?

When children older than age 6 or teens have bipolar disorder, they have mood swings with extreme ups and downs. When they are up, they have brief, intense outbursts or feel irritable or extremely happy (mania) several times almost every day. They have a lot of energy and a high activity level. When they are down, they feel depressed and sad.

In the past, experts thought bipolar disorder was the same in children and adults. But symptoms in children and teens are different from those in adults, and they need different treatment.

What causes bipolar disorder?

Experts don't fully understand what causes bipolar disorder.

It seems to run in families. Your child has a greater risk of having it if a close family member such as a parent, grandparent, brother, or sister has it. Parents may wonder what they did to cause their child to have bipolar disorder. But there is nothing a parent can do to cause or prevent it.

What are the symptoms?

Children and teens with bipolar disorder have mood swings with extreme ups (mania) and downs (depression). These intense moods quickly change from one extreme to another without a clear reason. Some children may briefly return to a normal mood between extremes. Many children change continuously between mania and depression, sometimes several times in the same day. Sometimes children with bipolar disorder have symptoms of both mania and depression at the same time.

Times of mania or depression may be less obvious in children and teens than in adults.

During a time of mania, children and teens may:

• Feel irritable and throw violent temper tantrums.

• Seem extremely happy and have high energy levels.

• Not sleep much and go about the house late at night looking for things to do.

• Talk very fast.

During a time of depression, children and teens may:

• Say they feel empty, sad, bored, or down.

• Complain of headaches, muscle aches, stomachaches, or fatigue.

• Often spend time alone and may easily feel rejected or criticized.

• Move very slowly.

bipolar disorder

How is bipolar disorder diagnosed in children and teens?

This disorder can be hard to diagnose in children and teens. The symptoms can look a lot like the symptoms of other problems, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or conduct disorder. Bipolar disorder can often occur along with these problems.

If your doctor thinks your child or teen may have bipolar disorder, he or she may ask questions about your child’s feelings and behavior. Your doctor may also give you and your child written tests to find out how severe the mania or depression is. The doctor may do other tests (such as a blood test) to rule out other health problems. He or she may ask if your family has any history of mental illness or problems with drugs. Any of these problems can be linked to bipolar disorder.

Why is early diagnosis of bipolar disorder important?

Children with this disorder are more likely to have other problems. These include drug abuse, trouble in school, running away from home, fighting, and even suicide. Treating the disorder as early as possible may keep your child from having these problems.

Watch for the warning signs of suicide, which change with age. Warning signs of suicide in children and teens may include thinking too much about death or suicide. Watch also for things that can trigger a suicide attempt such as a recent breakup of a relationship or the loss of a parent or close family member through death or divorce.

bipolar disorder

Source: webmd.com

Other links:

What is Bipolar disorder?

Symptoms & Types of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar I Disorder

Bipolar II Disorder

Lying is Bad for Your Health

What is Stress? (part1)

What is stress? (Part 2)


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