Children with bipolar disorder have periods or episodes of mania and depression. Depressive Episodes: People who have bipolar disorder may also experience periods of depression. An episode of depression includes low, depressed, or irritable mood.
Your child is going through the usual ups and downs of being a teenager. But then you begin to notice that their behavior is a bit more erratic than usual and seems to swing from extreme irritability to extreme sadness every few days. Read on to learn what symptoms to look for, how bipolar disorder is diagnosed, and how this mental health condition is treated.
Bipolar disorder in children is possible. It's most often diagnosed in older children and teenagers, but bipolar disorder can occur in children of any age. As in adults, bipolar disorder in children can cause mood swings from the highs of hyperactivity or euphoria mania to the lows of serious depression.
Bipolar disorders are one of several medical conditions called depressive disorders. Depressive disorders affect the way a person's brain functions. Depressive disorders are widespread.
Experts coach parents to expect the worst during the teen years: defiance, acting out, drug experimentation, even minor criminal activity. It may and it may not. It can be difficult to separate teenage moodiness from a more serious mood disorder like bipolar disorder or clinical depression.
Since teens' first symptoms are often the same as someone suffering from unipolar depression, they are often mislabeled as depressed or suffering from anxiety. Many children suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ADHD are also misdiagnosed as bipolar, and vice versa — adding to the difficulty of getting early treatment. In addition, the hormonal fluctuations that often accompany adolescence can cause a pattern of behavior that's similar in nature to bipolar disorder.
The majority of bipolar disorder symptoms start in the teenage years. However, in my experience, determining the difference between typical teenage behavior and behavior that is a result of bipolar disorder is difficult for even the most experienced professionals. In order to help parents and health care professionals, who suspect a teenager has bipolar disorder, I had to figure out how a person without bipolar disorder could differentiate between the typical and often over the top emotional behavior of a teen and the behavior of a teenager who needs a mental health diagnosis, as well as medical help.
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A teen with bipolar disorder often has extreme mood swings. A teen may have times of great elation, happiness, elevated mood, or irritability. This is called mania.