Many children, and especially adolescents, experience mood swings as a normal part of growing up. However, if these feelings persist and interfere with a child’s ability to function in their daily life, the child should be evaluated for bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic-depression, is a chronic mood disorder that affects the brain and causes extreme changes in mood, energy levels and behavior.
A child with Bipolar Disorder experiences marked swings in moods – from mania (severe highs) to depression (severe lows), in never-ending cycles. Sometimes these mood shifts are gradual, sometimes dramatic and rapid.
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder in Children, Adolescents & Teens
When in a depressive phase, children may:
Feel very sad
Feel guilty and worthless
Have little energy and no interest in fun activities
Complain about pain a lot, such as stomachaches and headaches
Sleep too little or too much
Eat too little or too much
Think about death or suicide
During a manic episode, children may:
Feel elated or act silly in ways that are not unusual for them or their age
Talk rapidly, and about many different things
Have a very short temper
Have trouble sleeping
Have trouble staying focused
Do risky things
Talk and think about sex more often
Treatments for Bipolar Disorder in Children, Adolescents & Teens
Bipolar Disorder in children, adolescents and teens can be treated with psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both. Even the most severe cases of bipolar disorder can be treated, and treatment is most effective when it is started early.
It is important to recognize that every child is affected by bipolar disorder in their own way, and treatment must be customized to the individual. In other words, there is no single pre-defined bipolar disorder treatment that works for everyone.
Psychotherapy, sometimes referred to as “talk therapy” or counseling, is a vital component of treating bipolar disorder. There are a variety of specific psychotherapeutic approaches that can be explored in the treatment of bipolar depression, including:
Medication may help improve the way the brain manages chemicals that control mood or stress. Every child will react to various medications in their own way, and several different medications may be tried before finding one that improves symptoms with manageable side effects.
Get Help for Bipolar Disorder
If someone you know or care for is experiencing any of these symptoms and you wish to seek treatment for their bipolar disorder, please contact me for an evaluation.