Adolescent Bipolar Disorder Is More Common Than You Think

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Characterised by powerful, intense changes in behaviour, levels of energy and mood, bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a serious mental illness.

One extreme of bipolar disorder is depression, recognised by signs such as fatigue, despair, weakness, preoccupation with death and suicidal thoughts.  There is also mania with fits of happiness and irrational behaviour.  The person suffering from bipolar disorder can have  intense impatience, restlessness, impulsiveness, poor judgement and sleeplessness.

Although adolescent bipolar disorder is a common mental illness, recognising the symptoms of this condition early is very challenging.  If a person has a parent or immediate family member with bipolar disorder, they have a greater chance of developing this disorder while very young. It is often extremely difficult to diagnose adolescent bipolar disorder because extreme low and very high mood swings, irrational behaviour, tantrums, and irritation are often very common, normal teenage behaviours and emotions.  Not the same as the adult bipolar symptom criteria, adolescent symptoms can co-occur or resemble many other mental disorders that are childhood-onset.  Because of this, recognizing and diagnosing adolescent bipolar disorder can be extremely challenging.  Many teenagers are not inclined to give information or talk to their parents and family members about their friends and activities making it difficult to check or observe their moods.

It is important for parents to try to watch their teenager as closely as possible if they suspect adolescent bipolar disorder, as this will help them to distinguish any common bipolar symptoms.  Manic adolescent bipolar systems include:

? Unrealistic, impossible optimism
? Increased energy
? Hyper sexuality
? Lack of concentration
? Intense mood swings
? Decreased need for sleep over a long period
? Extreme irritability and physical agitation
? Grandiose behaviours
? Elated mood
? Rapid speech that jumps from one idea to the next rapidly with no connection

Common adolescent bipolar depressive symptoms include:

? Thoughts of death suicide
? Depressed moods
? Lack of concentration
? Persistent sadness
? Sluggishness, low energy level, fatigue
? Physical agitation
? Regular complaints of stomach aches, headaches and other physical illnesses
? Feelings of worthlessness and emptiness
? Frequent crying
? No interest in favourite activities
? Extreme changes in sleeping and eating patterns

Although there is no cure yet for adolescent bipolar disorder, which is a lifelong condition, with therapy and medication it can be effectively controlled and treated.

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