Adolescent and Childhood Bipolar Disorder

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Children and adolescents can experience manic depression. Bipolar disorder has been recorded in patients as young as six years of age. The prevalence of this condition in children and teens is not yet established. However, some assert that a significant number of young people examined in psychiatric establishments fit the characteristics of bipolar disease.

Symptoms of Manic Depression in Children and Adolescents

Young people who suffer from bipolar disorder have episodes of hyperactivity, inattentiveness and are easily distracted. Irritability is a significant problem as well. Bipolar children may exhibit the following behaviours:

* Flamboyant behaviours
* Erratic, flighty ideas
* Elation
* Resisting sleep
* Hysterical laughter
* Disproportionate happiness
* Over-excited about mundane events

The symptoms have a direct impact on the child’s ability to function properly in home, school and community settings while in a manic state. Problems include disobedience and delusions of grandeur. Some manic children and adolescents are reckless, ignoring common-sense safety requirements.

The young person’s need for sleep decreases dramatically while in a manic stage. He may require a mere four to six hours of rest each night. The lack of sleep does not make the child tired the following day.

Some exhibit inappropriate, sexually charged behaviours. They may make advances and use explicitly sexual language. Some are quite flirtatious well beyond their years and these behaviours appear suddenly and without warning.

Children and teenagers may skip from one subject to the next while in conversation. Mood cycles can change dramatically throughout the day, ranging from elation to deep depressive states. Some are at risk for having suicidal tendencies so it is imperative to address the conditions very quickly.

Treatments for Childhood Bipolar Disorders

Address the behaviours and emotional cycles are of particular concern in children and adolescents. Medications are very problematic because many prescriptions that work well with adults have very different effects on children.

Children and teenagers require close monitoring while taking medication for bipolar disorder because weight fluctuations during growth can make it difficult to choose a proper dosage. Once a dosage is determined to be effective, it is subject to change as the children grow. Some medications can also lead to further problems including suicidal tendencies and deep depressive states.

Early recognition and proper interventions including cognitive-behavioural therapy can be very effective in treating bipolar disorders in children. More research is required to determine a comprehensive approach that effectively treats the mood disorder in children and adolescents.

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1 Comment

  1. Jacqueline
    Posted October 4, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Hello,
    Ihave just read your bit about childhood bipolar. I have been diagnosed with bipolar II, it runs in our family as my uncle has it too. It took both of us decades to have it diagnosed. I had a perfectly normal upbringing but I can clearly trace the signs of bipolar back to when I was 7. I can see all the symptoms I remember in my 8 year old daughter, I don’t think she is bipolar I KNOW she is, but as you know it’s a nightmare in the UK getting an adult diagnosed,let alone a child. I just wondered if you knew anyone who has real expertise of childhood bipolar in this country. Many, many thanks

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