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How To Know If Child Is Bipolar

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Differences In Similar Illnesses

My Child Has Mood Swings: How Do I Know if Its Bipolar Disorder, and What Do I Do?

Mental health professionals may need to sift out bipolar disorder from other look-alike symptoms of illnesses. For example, if a child with ADD has insomnia, they will be tired the next day a child with bipolar wont feel a need for sleep, explains Benjamin Goldstein, MD, PhD, a psychiatrist at the Sunnybrook Research Institute in Toronto. Hypersexuality is another bipolar marker, as it is a symptom of mania but not characteristic of ADD.

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How To Recognize Bipolar Disorder In Children

This article was co-authored by Liana Georgoulis, PsyD. Dr. Liana Georgoulis is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist with over 10 years of experience, and is now the Clinical Director at Coast Psychological Services in Los Angeles, California. She received her Doctor of Psychology from Pepperdine University in 2009. Her practice provides cognitive behavioral therapy and other evidence-based therapies for adolescents, adults, and couples.There are 25 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 20,672 times.

Bipolar disorder in children, also known as pediatric bipolar disorder, is a mood disorder that causes a child to oscillate between mania, depression, or somewhere in between. However, the condition tends to look different in children, with more irritability, mixed episodes, and mood swings than in adult bipolar disorder.XResearch source While bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition, early diagnosis and treatment is associated with better outcomes, so recognizing the signs of the condition is important.

The Main Differences Between Pediatric Bipolar Disorder Symptoms And Adult Bipolar Disorder Symptoms

Controversy persists about the presentation of bipolar disorder in children, but a

  • Childrens mood episodes may last longer than adults.
  • Mixed episodes of mania and depression are more common in kids.
  • Children are less likely than adults to experience psychotic symptoms.
  • Kids are more likely than adults to also be living with ADHD or other behavior disorders at the same time.
  • Children are more likely to shift from milder bipolar disorder to a more severe type.

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Does My Child Have Bipolar Or Adhd How To Tell The Difference

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and bipolar disorder can look similar in children and so it can be hard to know if your child has ADHD or bipolar disorder . On top of that, many children actually have both disorders and that can complicate matters further. Additionally, disorders such as disruptive mood dysregulation disorder and conduct disorder can also be hard to differentiate from pediatric bipolar disorder. The following outlines child bipolar vs. ADHD symptoms.

What Are The Causes Of Pediatric Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder in Children

Scientists dont know exactly what causes bipolar disorder. The structure and chemical makeup inside your childs brain may make them more likely to have this condition. Genetics may play a part because the illness can run in families. Having an anxiety disorder can also make people more likely to develop bipolar disorder.

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Is It Teenage Mood Swings Or Bipolar

As your read through the symptoms, you might be thinking: “Don’t all teens exhibit those symptoms sometimes?”

The short answer is “yes.”

But there are significant differences that a mental health professional will look for to determine whether you’re dealing with teenage bipolar symptoms or one of the other issues misdiagnosed as bipolar disorder.

Typically, a person displaying symptoms of bipolar disorder will:

  • Have a history of episodic mood swings
  • Be more likely to be withdrawn and sleep more, rather than less
  • Be less likely to exhibit agitation and weight loss
  • Be relatively young at onset
  • More commonly exhibit atypical symptoms of depression
  • Have a family history of bipolar disorder
  • Have brief, but numerous episodes
  • Not respond well to antidepressant therapy
  • Have a tendency toward psychotic behavior
  • Have a seasonal pattern to their moods
  • Be more likely to abuse substances or attempt suicide

As you can see, the differences are subtle but real.

That’s why it’s critical to keep an eye on your teen’s symptoms, even keeping a diary of moods and episodes if possible. That way your doctor will have the most information possible to make a clear and correct diagnosis.

Types Of Bipolar Disorder

There are two types of bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder I produces severe manic episodes, and bipolar disorder II produces milder manic episodes. In both, the depressive episodes can be severe.

Although bipolar disorder usually appears in the late teenage or young adult years, either type can affect people of any age, and first symptoms can sometimes develop later in life. Children and young teens with bipolar disorder may have more frequent mood swings than older teens and young adults with the condition.

Bipolar disorder tends to occur among family members. Research suggests certain genes may increase the likelihood of someone developing this condition.

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What Should I Know About Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat diseases and conditions. 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 so that others may be better helped in the future.

Researchers at NIMH and around the country conduct clinical trials with patients and healthy volunteers. Talk to your 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.

How Does Bipolar Disorder Affect Caregivers And Families

What’s the Prognosis for a Child Diagnosed With Bipolar Disorder?

Caring for a child or teenager with bipolar disorder can be stressful for parents and families. Coping with a childs mood episodes and other problemssuch as short tempers and risky behaviorscan challenge any caregiver.

It is important that caregivers take care of themselves, too. Find someone you can talk to or consult your health care provider about support groups. Finding support and strategies for managing stress can help you and your child.

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Bipolar Disorder Or Depression

Doctors sometimes find it hard to distinguish between bipolar disorder and depression, and this can lead to misdiagnosis. People with bipolar disorder are more likely to seek help during a low mood because depression is more likely to have a negative impact on their health and wellbeing. During a high mood, they may feel exceptionally well.

Factors that increase the chance of this happening include the following:

  • Depression is the dominant mood.
  • Depression is the first episode you have.
  • You have experienced mania or hypomania but not realized it could be significant.

Its essential to get an accurate diagnosis in order to work out a treatment plan. Antidepressants may not be effective in treating bipolar disorder.

In addition, some antidepressant medications can trigger a first manic or hypomanic episode if youre susceptible to them, and this could complicate both treatment and the outcome.

If you go to see your doctor with depression, be sure to tell them about any of the following, as these can help get an accurate diagnosis:

  • a family history of bipolar disorder or other mental health conditions
  • any other conditions that affect your mental or physical wellbeing
  • any medications, drugs, or other substances youre taking or have used in the past
  • if youve already tried antidepressants and they did not help

What Can Children And Teens Expect From Treatment

With treatment, children and teens with bipolar disorder can get better over time. Treatment is more effective when health care providers, parents, and young people work together.

Sometimes a childs symptoms may change, or disappear and then come back. When this happens, your childs health care provider may recommend changes to the treatment plan. Treatment can take time, but sticking with the treatment plan can help young people manage their symptoms and reduce the likelihood of future episodes.

Your childs health care provider may recommend keeping a daily life chart or mood chart to track your childs moods, behaviors, and sleep patterns. This may make it easier to track the illness and see whether treatment is working.

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I Know Someone Who Is In Crisis What Do I Do

If you know someone who might be thinking about hurting themselves or someone else, get help quickly.

  • Do not leave the person alone.
  • Call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or the toll-free TTY number at 1-800-799-4TTY . You also can text the Crisis Text Line or go to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website.

Can Children And Teens With Bipolar Disorder Have Other Problems

How to Know if You Have Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, or Borderline ...

Young people with bipolar disorder can have several problems at the same time. These include:

  • Misuse of alcohol and drugs. Young people with bipolar disorder are at risk of misusing alcohol or drugs.
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder . Children and teens who have both bipolar disorder and ADHD may have trouble staying focused.
  • Anxiety disorders. Children and teens with bipolar disorder also may have an anxiety disorder.

Sometimes extreme behaviors go along with mood episodes. During manic episodes, young people with bipolar disorder may take extreme risks that they wouldnt usually take or that could cause them harm or injury. During depressive episodes, some young people with bipolar disorder may think about running away from home or have thoughts of suicide.

If your child shows signs of suicidal thinking, take these signs seriously and call your childs health care provider.

If you think your child is in crisis and needs immediate help, call 911. You also can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1800273TALK , or text the Crisis Text Line . These services are confidential, free, and available 24/7.

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The Difference Between Teen Mood Swings And Bipolar Disorder

Parents often say a teens mood changes from minute to minute. But mood changes are normal in adolescents. Theyre still developing effective ways to manage their feelings, says Kristin Francis, MD, child and adolescent psychiatrist at Huntsman Mental Health Institute. Adolescents can have intense mood shifts and responses. So, its hard for parents to distinguish if its typical teen behavior or something more serious.

The best way to tell the difference is to determine if your teens mood changes are in response to a specific, definable situation, says Francis. For example, its common for teens to:

  • Act irritable after being asked to do chores, get off their phone, or stop playing a video game.
  • Express anger during a conflict with parents about grades.
  • Seem moody and retreat to their room after a fight with a friend or significant other.

Bipolar mood changes dont usually have a trigger, which is different than mood changes you may see in your teen from stressors at school, rules at home, or from conflicts with parents, Francis says. She discusses what bipolar symptoms in teens look like and what to do if youre worried about your child.

What Is Pediatric Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition, often with two phases: mania and depression. During manic phases, children may have high energy, and may be impulsive, irritable and have a hard time sleeping or focusing. During times of depressive symptoms, children can experience sadness, a lack of motivation and low energy.

These extreme mood changes can be very disruptive in your childs life. Your child might be so restless that they engage in reckless behaviors or have a hard time concentrating on schoolwork. They may have periods of low energy, when theyre not interested in any activities.

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How Is Bipolar Disorder Different In Children Than In Adults

Children with bipolar disorder may switch moods more often than adults. For example, a child may exhibit periods of giddiness and silliness, anger outbursts, and crying all in one day. Children with bipolar disorder also tend to show less clear episodes and instead may show chronic irritability or mixed moods that involve a combination of mania and depression symptoms.

Living With Bipolar Disorder

Raising Sadie: my bipolar child

Teens normally face ups and downs with school, family, work, and friends. Dealing with bipolar disorder at the same time is a very difficult challenge. One 16-year-old reader who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 14 wrote to us about the experience:

“I had mood swings that were the worst anyone could have ever seen. My poor parents thought I hated them, but really I was sick and didn’t even realize it. But now I am on medications for my disorder and I live a pretty normal life. My family and friends support me, and they, along with my therapist, have helped me get to the point where I am today. I just want other teens to know that even though it is hard at times to be bipolar, things will get better.”

If you’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, taking your medications as prescribed, reporting any changes in how you feel or function, and participating in therapy will be key to living a successful life. In addition to treatment, making a few lifestyle changes, such as reducing stress, eating well, and getting enough sleep and exercise can help someone who is living with the condition. And many teens find it helps to join a support network such as a local support group for people with bipolar disorder.

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Child Bipolar Vs Adhd Characteristic Diagnostic Behaviors

The following table outlines the characteristics that help diagnose bipolar disorder or ADHD in a child and how they present themselves.

Euphoric in mania/hypomania and suffering and depressed during depression Often depressed or in neither an inflated mood nor a depressed mood
Episodic disturbances such as decreased need in mania/hypomania Chronic poor sleep often late bedtimes
Speech Pressured and/or rapid in mania/hypomania and slowed during depression Often rapid may be pressured
Psychomotor activity Agitated in mania/hypomania/mixed states slowed in depressed states Chronically agitated

Its also important to know that children who are initially diagnosed with ADHD may eventually be diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Children with severe ADHD, unstable emotions and aggression are often the ones who later develop bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder and ADHD also commonly occur together. Some studies have shown that in children with bipolar symptoms, as many as 90% also have ADHD. That percentage drops as age increases.

Patterns Of Depression And Mania

If you have bipolar disorder, you may have episodes of depression more regularly than episodes of mania, or vice versa.

Between episodes of depression and mania, you may sometimes have periods where you have a “normal” mood.

The patterns are not always the same and some people may experience:

  • rapid cycling where a person with bipolar disorder repeatedly swings from a high to a low phase quickly without having a “normal” period in between
  • mixed state where a person with bipolar disorder experiences symptoms of depression and mania together for example, overactivity with a depressed mood

If your mood swings last a long time but are not severe enough to be classed as bipolar disorder, you may be diagnosed with a mild form of bipolar disorder called cyclothymia.

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Support For Children With Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder does not impact one person it impacts the entire family. A child with BD may struggle to understand their condition, and they may feel isolated. Family members may find it hard to cope with being unable to help a child deal with these difficulties.

There are support groups for both young people with BD and their families. Some groups they may want to consider include:

Bipolar Symptoms In Children: Presentation

Dear Kids of Parents Who Have Bipolar Disorder

Every childs symptoms differ, but during a manic phase, you may see signs like:

  • Acting hyper, exuberantly happy, or incredibly silly behavior seemingly at random and in a way that is unusual to the childs personality
  • Talking quickly or switching topics mid-sentence
  • Hyperfocusing on a single subject or project that seems to come out of nowhere
  • Erupting in extreme upset when obstacles arise or they are told no
  • Highly imaginative coming up with complex storylines
  • Angering quickly and becoming violent over small slights
  • Not feeling tired or requiring much sleep, and showing little interest in napping, resting, or going to bed at night getting up frequently during the night
  • Becoming preoccupied with sex or sexual thoughts talking about sex at inappropriate times
  • Acting on sexual desires in public, dangerous, or age-inappropriate ways masturbating excessively or engaging in risky sex at a young age
  • Seeing or hearing things that arent there

During a depressive phase, you might see symptoms like:

  • Acting unusually weepy and sad
  • Complaining of frequent stomachaches and headaches
  • Sleeping longer than usual
  • Eating too little or too much might gain or lose weight very rapidly
  • Showing little interest in regular activities
  • Talking about being a bad child, or wondering aloud if everyone hates them
  • Becoming preoccupied with death talking about suicide or, for very young children, how it would be better for everyone if they went away forever or were never born

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Symptoms In Children And Teens

Symptoms of bipolar disorder usually emerge in early adulthood, though they can occur at any age. Sometimes, they can appear in children.

Signs that a child may have bipolar disorder

  • lose interests in things they used to enjoy
  • think about death or suicide

There are many reasons why children and teens can experience mood changes or moods that seem extreme. The hormonal changes in puberty can lead to fluctuations in mood, and the symptoms of ADHD and other conditions can resemble those of bipolar disorder.

If youre concerned about yourself or a young person, seek medical help early. Whatever the reason for mood changes in a young person, getting a correct diagnosis can help manage the symptoms and prevent long-term complications.

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