Bipolar Disorder In Children And Teens Is Not Uncommon
Bipolar disorder is typically diagnosed during later teen years or early adulthood. However, symptoms of BD can often show up in young children.
It can be difficult to tell whether teens are experiencing normal mood swings or showing signs of a serious mental health condition.
Its important for parents, caregivers, friends, and family members to watch for mood swings that differ from typical behavior. Behavioral changes can be a sign of the onset of a mental health concern.
The most important thing to do if you are concerned is to ask for help. Even if the child is not diagnosed with bipolar disorder, there may be another mental health issue that needs to be addressed.
Who Is At Risk
More than two of every 100 people have bipolar disorder. Although we dont yet know what causes bipolar disorder, research shows there is a genetic factor. People with a parent or sibling diagnosed with bipolar disorder have an increased chance of also developing a bipolar disorder.
The structure of the brain could be a contributing factor, too, with physical changes, neurotransmitter imbalances, thyroid problems and disturbances of circadian rhythms causing symptoms.
A high level of cortisol is also linked to bipolar disorder. For some, major life changes , drug or alcohol abuses, medication, seasonal changes or sleep deprivation can trigger the first episode or make symptoms worse.
Learning To Recognise Triggers
If you have bipolar disorder, you can learn to recognise the warning signs of an approaching episode of mania or depression.
A community mental health worker, such as a psychiatric nurse, may be able to help you identify your early signs of relapse from your history.
This will not prevent the episode occurring, but it’ll allow you to get help in time.
This may mean making some changes to your treatment, perhaps by adding an antidepressant or antipsychotic medicine to the mood-stabilising medication you’re already taking.
Your GP or specialist can advise you on this.
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Relief Of Symptoms With Medication
Medication is almost always recommended as part of the treatment plan for those who have bipolar disorder, in order to stabilize mood swings. Medications that may be recommended include:
- Mood stabilizers
- Second-generation antipsychotics
It may take some time to find the medication that is most effective for you. Side effects have to be taken into consideration along with how well you respond to the medication. Once your symptoms improve, you may be tempted to discontinue taking your medications, but its very important not to do this. Suddenly stopping bipolar medications can cause a wide variety of symptoms, including a rebound of your bipolar symptoms.
Can Bipolar Disorder Go Away
Bipolar disorder is a condition in which a person experiences significant changes in mood, energy, thinking, and behavior. People with bipolar disorder have extreme mood swings that range from very sad to very excited and then back again. The two most common types of bipolar disorder are Bipolar I and Bipolar II. An individual with Bipolar I experiences full-blown manic episodes, either with or without depressive episodes. An individual with Bipolar II experiences hypomanic episodes, with mild symptoms of depression. Hypomania is a less intense, more relaxed mood than mania. Bipolar disorder is a recurring condition. It is generally a chronic condition. However, it is possible for someone with bipolar disorder to have periods of time when the disorder is in remission. In order for someone with bipolar disorder to be considered in remission, they must be symptom-free and be in a good place emotionally and mentally. In other words, the symptoms have to be gone and must have been in remission for a period of time..
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Seven Classes And The Key Findings That Shaped Them
The seven phenoclasses, as the U-M team has dubbed them, include standard measures doctors already use to diagnose and track the progress of bipolar disorder.
Changes in cognition, which includes thinking, reasoning and emotion processing
Psychological dimensions such as personality and temperament
Measures of behaviors related to substance use or abuse called motivated behaviors
Aspects of the persons life involving family, intimate relationships and traumas
Patterns of sleep and circadian rhythms
Measures of how patients symptoms change over time and respond to treatment
Some of the key findings the U-M team made in the Prechter cohort include:
Although bipolar disorder tends to run in families, the long-term study revealed no one gene explains it, says McInnis, who is the Woodworth Professor of Bipolar Disorder and Depression in the U-M Medical Schools Department of Psychiatry.
If there was a gene with a strong effect like what we see in breast cancer, for instance, we would have found it, he explains. We hope this new framework will provide a new approach to understand this disorder, and other complex diseases, by developing models that can guide a management strategy for clinicians and patients and give researchers consistent variables to measure and assess.
How Do I Get Help If I Think I Have Bipolar Disorder
The usual first step to getting help is to speak to your GP.
It can help to keep a record of your moods. This can help you and your GP to understand your mood swings. Bipolar UK have a mood diary and a mood scale on their website. You can find their details in the Useful contacts section at the bottom of this page.
Your GP cant diagnose bipolar disorder. Only a psychiatrist can make a formal diagnosis. Your GP may arrange an appointment with a psychiatrist if you have:
- depression, and
- ever felt very excited or not in control of your mood or behaviour for at least 4 days in a row.
They might refer you to a psychiatrist at your local NHS community mental health team .
Your GP should make an urgent referral to the CMHT if they think that you might have mania or severe depression. Or there is a chance that you are a danger to yourself or someone else.
Your GP should refer you to your local NHS early intervention team if you have an episode of psychosis and its your first one.
Bipolar disorder can be difficult to diagnose because it affects everyone differently. Also, the symptoms of bipolar disorder can be experienced by people who have other mental illness diagnoses. It can take a long time to get a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.
You can find more information about:
- NHS mental health teams by clicking here.
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Who Does Bipolar Disorder Affect
Bipolar disorder can affect anyone. The average age of onset is 25 years, but, more rarely, it can start as early as early childhood or as late as in your 40s or 50s.
Although bipolar disorder affects people assigned female at birth and people assigned male at birth in equal numbers, the condition tends to affect them differently.
People AFAB with bipolar disorder may switch moods more quickly. When people with bipolar disorder experience four or more manic or depressive episodes in a year, this is called rapid cycling. Varying levels of sex hormones and thyroid hormones, together with the tendency for people AFAB to be prescribed antidepressants, may contribute to the more rapid cycling in this population.
People AFAB with bipolar disorder may also experience more periods of depression than people AMAB.
Why Does Bipolar Shorten Your Life
Bipolar disorder isnt fatal in and of itself, but the poor lifestyle habits that often accompany it can lead to heart disease, stroke, and other health problems. Because bipolar disorder affects your ability to function socially, maintain a job and handle money, people with the condition are at greater risk for obesity, alcoholism, drug abuse and suicide. The symptoms of bipolar disorder include: * Depression * Severe and overwhelming mood swings * Euphoria * Anxiety * Physical exhaustion * Impulsivity * Self-harming * Sleep disturbances * Irritability * Hot and cold flashes * Difficulty concentrating * Racing thoughts * Self-doubt * Suicidal thoughts.
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Bipolar Disorder And Other Mental Illnesses
People with bipolar disorder fluctuate between mania and depression. Because it can look like other illnesses, it can be difficult to diagnose.
Folks diagnosed with BD may experience another mental illness at the same time. Possibilities include eating disorders, anxiety disorders, or substance use disorders.
People with bipolar disorder have an increased risk of developing other chronic medical conditions including diabetes, obesity, migraine headaches, thyroid disease, and heart disease.
Below are just a few of the most common conditions that may look like bipolar disorder or may manifest as additional diagnoses. Anyone who has symptoms of these conditions should seek help from a trained medical professional, mental health professional, or specialist.
How Do Doctors Diagnose Bipolar Disorder
The primary symptoms of bipolar disorder are related to mood changes. Your doctor may first rule out other possible causes for your mood swings.
Imaging tests or brain scans cannot diagnose bipolar disorder. However, they may identify underlying conditions that can produce drastic disruptions in your mood. These conditions include a brain tumor or stroke.
To further evaluate your mood changes, your doctor or mental health professional may ask you these questions:
- When did you first notice your mood swings?
- What moods do you experience when you have mood swings?
- How long do your mood changes last?
- Does anything make the mood changes better or worse?
- Do you have other symptoms?
- Do you have other psychiatric or medical problems?
- What medications are you taking?
- Do you drink alcohol?
- Are you using illegal drugs?
If your doctor rules out other medical conditions, they will most likely refer you to a mental health professional. This specialist will further evaluate your symptoms to confirm a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. You can then work closely with your doctor and mental health professional to create a treatment plan.
Conditions That Can Co
Many people with bipolar disorder also have other mental disorders or conditions such as anxiety disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder , misuse of drugs or alcohol, or eating disorders. Sometimes people who have severe manic or depressive episodes also have symptoms of psychosis, such as hallucinations or delusions. The psychotic symptoms tend to match the persons extreme mood. For example, someone having psychotic symptoms during a depressive episode may falsely believe they are financially ruined, while someone having psychotic symptoms during a manic episode may falsely believe they are famous or have special powers.
Looking at symptoms over the course of the illness and the persons family history can help determine whether a person has bipolar disorder along with another disorder.
Can People Recover From Bipolar Disorder
In the pantheon of mental health disorders, one that’s not always well understood by the general public is bipolar disorder. Formerly referred to as manic-depression, bipolar disorder is a complex condition that causes a wide variety of symptoms that can lead to a lot of disruption to daily life.
“Bipolar disorder is a mood illness that involves episodes of elevated mood or depressed mood,” says Dr. Samar McCutcheon, a psychiatrist in the department of psychiatry and behavioral health at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus.
Bipolar disorder actually presents as two varieties: Bipolar 1 and Bipolar 2. “Bipolar I disorder most commonly consists of episodes of depression and episodes of mania, while Bipolar 2 disorder most commonly consists of episodes of depression and episodes of hypomania,” McCutcheon explains. Hypomania is a mood that’s elevated above normal but not to the level of full mania.
Episodes of depression can involve:
— Low mood.
— Loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities.
— Changes to sleep patterns.
Episodes of mania or hypomania may involve:
— An elevated or expansive mood.
— A decreased need for sleep.
— Racing thoughts.
— Rapid or pressured speech. This is when a person seems to be talking very fast, almost as if they’re compelled to keep talking, making it almost impossible for anyone else to interrupt them or get a word in edgewise.
Managing Bipolar Disorder
5 Things to Do After a Bipolar Diagnosis
Can Bipolar Be Cured Without Medication
First of all, let me clarify that Im not a psychiatrist and Im not giving you medical advice. That said, I can tell you what I have learnt from my own experience and that of people who I have met. There are a number of things that you can do without medication to control your condition. But, its important to remember that Im still dealing with it and Im not cured yet. Yes, there are chances that your bouts of depression and mania can be reduced with medication, but when it comes to curing your bipolar disorder, medication alone cant do it. You might have to do many things like lifestyle modification, eating right and exercising regularly, facing your fears to learn how to live with bipolar disorder, etc. All these things are extremely important, because they help you to live a life that is not bipolar dependent..
The Elephant In The Bipolar Room
Think of two people with very different temperaments or personality styles. One is usually calm, even-tempered, rarely anxious and mostly has positive self-esteem. The second person, by contrast, approaches most things with apprehension and doubt and often feels that stress undermines his or her capacity to think clearly and make good decisions. These are people who approach life quite differently.
Imagine these two people both experience the same difficult and challenging day. While their external stress may be comparable, these individuals’ capacity to manage their day is quite different. For the one with anxiety and deficient self-soothing, their fearfulness and difficulty remaining calm are stressors in and of themselves. In other words, the psyche of the individual absolutely plays a significant role in how the day is experienced. The notion that circumstance or other people make us feel anyway in particular is inaccurate. Life comes at us, but our response is our own creation.
I dont want to replicate the perspective that I criticized at the outset of this blog. Psychotherapy wont likely resolve the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Even the most insightful, self-aware, self-accepting bipolar individual will still experience some mixture of highs, lows and/or irritability that will be difficult to manage. Thats life with bipolar disorder.
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Treating And Managing Symptoms
Although bipolar disorder cannot be cured, the right treatment makes it possible to enjoy a successful career, a happy family life and satisfying relationships.
Initially, treatment focuses on balancing moods. Once the symptoms are under control, the biological and psychological aspects can be addressed. Treatment may include:
Medications. Often a combination of mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications.
Psychotherapy. Approaches may include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy , Dialectical Behavior Therapy , psychoeducation, family therapy or social rhythm therapy.
Hospitalization. If symptoms are severe or there is risk of self-harm.
ECT and TMS. If medication is not effective or causing debilitating side effects, Electroconvulsive Therapy or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation may be treatment options.
Find support. Spending time with healthy, positive people and/or a support group can help sticking to treatment easier.
Healthy lifestyle. Moderate physical exercise, staying hydrated and getting plenty of sleep can help keep moods steady. Incorporating good stress management tools such as meditation, yoga and other relaxation techniques can also be helpful.
Are There Clinical Trials Studying Bipolar Disorder
NIMH supports a wide range of research, including clinical trials that look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat diseases and conditionsincluding bipolar disorder. Although individuals may benefit from being part of a clinical trial, participants should be aware that the primary purpose of a clinical trial is to gain new scientific knowledge to help others in the future. Researchers at NIMH and around the country conduct clinical trials with patients and healthy volunteers. Talk to a health care provider about clinical trials, their benefits and risks, and whether one is right for you. For more information, visit the NIMH clinical trials webpage.
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What Causes Bipolar Disorder
Scientists dont yet know the exact cause of bipolar disorder.
But they do believe theres a strong genetic component. Bipolar disorder is considered one of the most heritable psychiatric conditions more than two-thirds of people with bipolar disorder have at least one close biological relative with the condition. However, just because you have a biological relative with bipolar disorder, doesnt necessarily mean youll also develop it.
Other factors that scientists think contribute to the development of bipolar disorder include:
- Changes in your brain: Researchers have identified subtle differences in the average size or activation of some brain structures in people with bipolar disorder. However, brain scans cant diagnose the condition.
- Environmental factors like trauma and stress: A stressful event, such as the death of a loved one, a serious illness, divorce or financial problems can trigger a manic or depressive episode. Because of this, stress and trauma may also play a role in the development of bipolar disorder.
Scientists are currently performing research to determine the relationship that these factors have in bipolar disorder, how they may help prevent its onset and what role they may play in its treatment.
Are Bipolar People Smart
Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that affects mood and thought patterns. A person with bipolar disorder experiences periods of elevated mood and periods of depression. It is generally a treatable condition. People who are bipolar can have highly successful lives. Bipolar is usually a treatable mental illness. Medications help to relieve symptoms and people with the disorder can lead very productive, happy and fulfilling lives. However it is very important to understand your condition, and this is where bipolar disorder support groups can help. For example on the NAMI website you can find support groups for family and friends of people with bipolar disorder as well as for people with bipolar disorder..
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