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Bipolar Disorder in Children & Teens
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is defined as a medical condition in which people have mood swings out of proportion, or seemingly unrelated, to things going on in their lives. These swings affect thoughts, feelings, physical health, behavior, and functioning.
Bipolar disorder is difficult to recognize and diagnose because:
Bipolar disorder in children and teens does not fit precisely the symptom criteria established for adults -- the symptoms can resemble or co-occur with those of other common childhood-onset mental disorders.
Bipolar disorder may be mistaken for normal emotions and behaviors of children and adolescents.
Bipolar disorder may be mistaken with symptoms of drug use.
There is no objective medical test for bipolar disorder.
What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder is characterized by recurrent episodes of depression, mania, and/or mixed symptom states. These episodes cause unusual and extreme shifts in mood, energy, and behavior that interfere significantly with normal, healthy functioning.
Manic symptoms include:
Depressive symptoms include:
When manic, children and adolescents, in contrast to adults, are more likely to be irritable and prone to destructive outbursts than to be elated or euphoric.
When depressed, there may be many physical complaints such as headaches, muscle aches, stomachaches or tiredness, frequent absences from school or poor performance in school, talk of or efforts to run away from home, irritability, complaining, unexplained crying, social isolation, poor communication, and extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure.
Existing evidence indicates that bipolar disorder beginning in childhood or early adolescence may be a different, possibly more severe form of the illness than older adolescent- and adult-onset bipolar disorder.
When the illness begins before or soon after puberty, it is often characterized by a continuous, rapid-cycling, irritable, and mixed symptom state that may co-occur with disruptive behavior disorders, particularly ADHD or conduct disorder (CD), or may have features of these disorders as initial symptoms.
In contrast, later adolescent- or adult-onset bipolar disorder tends to begin suddenly, often with a classic manic episode, and to have a more episodic pattern with relatively stable periods between episodes. There is also less co-occurring ADHD or CD among those with later onset illness.
A child or adolescent who appears to be depressed and exhibits ADHD-like symptoms that are very severe, with excessive temper outbursts and mood changes, should be evaluated by a mental health professional with experience in bipolar disorder, particularly if there is a family history of the illness. This evaluation is especially important since psycho-stimulant medications, often prescribed for ADHD, may worsen manic symptoms. There is also limited evidence suggesting that some of the symptoms of ADHD may be a forerunner of full-blown mania.
Practical Help, Real Answers
for Adoptive & Foster Parents
by David J. Miklowitz
Like no other resource available, this powerful book delivers practical ways to manage chaos and relieve stress so everyone in your family -- including siblings -- can find stability, support, and peace of mind.
by Julie A Fast and John Preston
This book offers a unique, personalized approach that teaches people with bipolar disorder and their loved ones to manage the illness and achieve daily stability. The authors' program combines medication and supplements, lifestyle changes, behavior modifications, and other indispensable management tools.
Bipolar Affective Disorder (Manic Depressive Disorder) in Children and Adolescents ~ Comprehensive examination of bipolar disorders -- all of which are a combination of mania with or without depression.
Bipolar I Disorder ~ Diagnostic criteria from DSM-IV and DSM-IV-TR.
Bipolar Disorder ~ Medscape's center of information on bipolar disorder.
Bipolar II Disorder ~ Diagnostic criteria from DSM-IV and DSM-IV-TR.
Childhood trauma and hallucinations in bipolar affective disorder: preliminary investigation ~ Strong evidence exists for an association between childhood trauma, particularly childhood sexual abuse, and hallucinations in schizophrenia. Hallucinations are also well-documented symptoms in people with bipolar affective disorder.
Does Adolescent Stress Lead to Mood Disorders in Adulthood? ~ There may be a link between the recent rise in the rates of depression and other mood disorders and the increase of daily stress.
Fear Circuit Flares as Bipolar Youth Misread Faces ~ Youth with bipolar disorder misread facial expressions as hostile and show heightened neural reactions when they focus on emotional aspects of neutral faces.
Misdiagnosing Narcissism - The Bipolar 1 Disorder ~ The manic phase of Bipolar 1 Disorder is often misdiagnosed as Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Bipolar patients in the manic phase exhibit many of the signs and symptoms of pathological narcissism -- hyperactivity, self-centeredness, lack of empathy, and control freakery.
Mood Disorder: Bipolar Disorder ~ Because no distinction is made for symptoms of adult-, adolescent-, or childhood-onset bipolar disorder, clinicians are challenged to distinguish abnormal mood symptoms in adolescents and children from normal developmental behaviors, oppositional or defiant behaviors, inattention or hyperactivity, and conduct problems.
Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder Share Genetic Roots ~ Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder share genetic roots that appear to be specific to serious mental disorders, and are not shared by non-psychiatric illnesses.
The Rise of Bipolar Symptoms and Treatment ~ Bipolar disorder has changed in frequency and severity from a rare and acute illness to one that is pervasive and chronic. Why?
Violence in Bipolar Disorder: What Role Childhood Trauma Play? ~ Traumatic experiences in childhood have been linked to the potential for violence in adults and to vulnerability to adult psychiatric disorders. Bipolar disorder has been linked to both traumatic childhood experience and to the potential for violence. This review aims to explain the association between bipolar disorder, trauma, and violence, and to provide guidance for assessing violence potential in bipolar patients.
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