Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder In Children

Learn how I beat Depression

Most sufferers of bipolar disorder begin to show symptoms of this grave mental illness during adolescence or early adulthood. However, sometimes symptoms of bipolar disorder manifest in children from a very early ages. Childhood bipolar disorder presents its own problems, as far as treatment and diagnosis.

Imagine the following scenario: a child–let’s name him Ferdinand–is five-and-a-half years old, and almost ready to enter school. The boy is charismatic and smart, and shows good ability in maths and reading comprehension for a child his age. However, imagine that this same child has a wildly unpredictable temper. This child’s moods will change from sweet-tempered and outgoing, to wildly angry, to sullen and withdrawn, within the space of a single hour.

Furthermore, imagine that the boy is prone to extreme outbursts of emotions on a regular basis: when Ferdinand gets angry, he expends a shocking amount of energy during the course of his tantrums, an amount that will tire most adults. He screams and thrashes so wildly that his parents worry for his health. Sometimes, scenes with Ferdinand resemble the 1970’s American movie, The Exorcist, where it seems like this sweet boy is animated by supernatural demons. The child bites and scratches like an undomesticated squirrel caught in a trap, and has almost sent someone from his preschool into the hospital.

If the parents take Ferdinand the arcade to play video games, the excitement of the machines bleeping along, with their colourful graphics, sends the child into “overdrive mode.” Overstimulated, Ferdinand enters a frenzy and attempts to play every game at once. When this fails, the child enters a red rage and proceeds to bash his head against one of the machines. The embarrassed, terrified parents try to stop him and can’t. The boy seriously hurts himself, and is taken to the hospital.

Once his injuries heal, the hospital staff refer Ferdinand to a resident psychotherapist. The therapist gives the child a battery of tests to determine what is wrong with him. What is the therapist’s diagnosis?

If the therapist is a good one, the diagnosis should be childhood bipolar personality disorder. However, if the therapist has been caught up in the craze of diagnosing children with disorders such as ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder), Ferdinand stands a good risk of being misdiagnosed.

The fact is that bipolar disorder manifests differently in children than it does in older teenagers and adults. In older teenagers and adults (the age groups more likely to suffer from bipolar disorder), bipolar symptoms typically involve periods of depression and euphoric mania that last weeks or even months. In children, these varying moods often play out over the course of a single day. Perhaps as a result of this, mania in children rarely takes the form of unadulterated euphoria as it does in adults. Instead, manic children feel out-of-control and typically express themselves through uncontrollable rages.

Learn how I beat Depression

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *