Bipolar disease in adolescence


Bipolar in children is not something that should be taken lightly. When children are showing the symptoms of bipolar there is a great chance that they may be misdiagnosed. When dealing with a child that you think may have this disease you should consult a physician. There are medications that are available to help and even control the symptoms.

There is a huge part that genes play in the disorder. When a parent or both parents have the disorder the percentage of the child inheriting the trait becomes higher. Genes play a great deal into this particular disorder.

Bipolar Disease in Adolescence

The Symptoms and Diagnosis:

When a child is expressing behavioral problems there is a chance that he/she has bipolar disorder. Bipolar does not affect everyone in the same way. There are many different symptoms. A child may display symptoms that adults do not or vice-versa. The reason that the disorder does not affect children in the same way is because the brain is not finished developing till the age of 25.

There are a few different types of bipolar. There are many different symptoms. When children are displaying a few different symptoms there is a chance that they may have this disorder and should be diagnosed by a professional. There is no guarantee that the diagnosis is correct; as bipolar is the highest misdiagnosed disorder amongst children.

Bipolar is talked about as being the chameleon of disorders. (Mondimore, Bipolar Disorder, 1999) This is why this disorder is thought to be a form of ADHD. This disorder is typically misdiagnosed. Due to the fact that it has depression like symptoms it can be diagnosed as depression or borderline personality disorder.

When a child that has bipolar and is misdiagnosed he or she is typically given the diagnosis of ADHD. When a child is diagnosed with ADHD they are typically given medication for the symptoms they are having. The one symptom that usually protrudes over the others is depression.

The medication that the children are given for their depression does not take care of their whole problem. Often this medication makes the children in a worse condition than they were in to begin with. The medication that is typically given to children to control their ADHD is Ritalin or Adderall.

When a Bipolar child is given an antidepressant it may increase the other bipolar symptoms they are experiencing. These symptoms that are at risk of increasing are when the child will have a breakdown or become more impulsive. When children are bipolar there is a good chance that they may show more signs of being recklessness more so than their peers. (Conner, Depression, Bipolar Disorder and ADHD in Children, 2006 to 2008)

When a child is expressing symptoms such as depression and extreme mood swings there is a chance that the child may have bipolar disorder. When a child is thought that he or she might have the disorder they should then take the appropriate steps to get checked out and treatment.

The most common symptoms of bipolar are depression and mania. Mania is known as the manic episode. When a child is experiencing a manic episode they are experiencing the highs that quickly turn into the lows. The child could be completely happy and optimistic and then become extremely reckless and/or irritable.

When a child is lashing out or having an episode they are usually inflicting it on a loved one or someone that is an authority figure to them. There are many different ways that the child can express this type of mania. They may start out happy and feel like they are able to conquer the world. It quickly can turn into them shouting and screaming.

When a child is experiencing the depression part of the bipolar disorder they may feel as if they are unable to accomplish anything. A child with depression due to bipolar may have great difficulty getting out of bed in the morning and according to (Conner, Depression, Bipolar Disorder and ADHD in Children, 2006 to 2008) the child feels as if they are actually chained to the bed.

There are many similarities between depression and bipolar depression. When a child may have depression and is given an antidepressant for the symptom. This typically will treat the symptom and help the child. When a child has depression due to bipolar and is given medication that is meant to treat depression this can make their other symptoms worsen. When the child takes these medications it can be extremely harmful if not dangerous to the child and there development.

If a child is diagnosed with bipolar disorder it is most likely that they also have ADHD. This is most likely the reason that ADHD is mistaken for bipolar. There is an 85% chance. This can also be looked at from the other side, if the child is diagnosed with ADHD it is not likely that they also have bipolar. The chance of this is much lower at a 22% chance. (Singh, Co-occurrence of bipolar and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorders in children, 2006)

Finding a Doctor and Treatments:

When your child is showing signs of depression or abnormal social behavior a doctor should be sought out. The steps that should be taken to find a physician should start with the child's school. There are very few doctors out there that are experts in the area of pediatric bipolar disease. When you do find a qualified doctor you should do your research.

The family doctor should always be contacted if not for just more information, but to also keep him/her updated. There is a chance that in an emergency that the doctors in the emergency room are able to help. (National Institute of Mental Health, 2010)

Bipolar disorder is not curable. Children do not develop this disorder it is something that they are born with and then show symptoms over time. Medication and psychosocial treatment can help manage the symptoms. When these are used in conjunction it can help to keep the child's behavior stable, and or more predictable.

While trying to manage a child's symptoms medication will lesson them and psychosocial treatment whether it is family or individual this therapy is of great importance. If therapy is used in conjunction with medication children with bipolar are more likely to feel better quicker. They will be able to control their symptoms better. (Hellander, Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation, 2007)

There are three different main types of treatment for the bipolar disorder Medication, Counseling/Psycho Therapy, and Electro Convulsive Therapy.

There are many different types of medication these medications are able to suppress the symptoms and help the children cope with their situations. When a child is given one medication it may help the symptoms or make them worse. There is a chance that the child may have to try a few different medications to see which one works best. There are even chances that the child may need to take more than one type of medication. In some cases there is a chance that the original medication can cause other symptoms that can be taken care of with the additional meds. (National Institute of Mental Health, 2010)

Children's bodies are still developing unlike full grow adults. When medication is necessary for children they should be given the fewest amounts and the smallest dosage possible to help the symptoms they are showing. When a child is prescribed medication the parent should be in constant contact with the prescribing doctor. If there are any side effects that the child is experiencing the doctor should be contacted immediately. If the child has been on the medication for a long period of time, the child should not stop taking the medication without speaking with their doctor first. If a medication is stopped suddenly there could be dangerous side effects.

When the child is in need of one of the three types of treatments; this is for the physician to decide which one. If the doctor chooses to medicate as the main treatment the doctor will typically implement (Croft, Types of Bipolar Medications, 2009):

If the doctor chooses a mood stabilizer they might pick Lithium. This is the drug that is talked about the most. A child is given this medication to help them cope with the episodes that they are experiencing. When a child is given this type of medication it is expected to lower the amount of aggression and outbursts that the child will endure.

The antidepressants that are given to children to treat their depression that they are experiencing could possibly be bupropion. This is given to treat the depression and not the whole bipolar disorder. Mentioned earlier when giving a child medication only to treat their depression can make their other symptoms burst out and become more apparent and bring them out into the lime light.

The antipsychotics that are given to children to treat their depression that they are experiencing could possibly be olanzapine. This type of medication is typically given to the children with the most severe type of this disorder. This is known as the mixed type. In some cases the children are hearing voices.

There is a great chance that relapse can happen even with the best treatments and medications. The child needs to be on a regiment of medication and therapy. When the child is placed on medication he/she should be in constant contact with both the prescribing physician and their therapist. The best results come when both coincide with each other if both are needed.

For the benefit of the child the family members should become educated and brought up to speed on the disorder. This education needs to be mostly for the parents and the child. When the parents learn the symptoms of the disorder then they are able to redirect the child's actions to have more positive outcomes. This will help the child have a strong support system and stay on the treatments that are recommended. When the child is seeking treatment the child will then be less likely to relapse.

According to (Hellander, 2007, Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation) when coming up with a good treatment plan all aspects need to be factored in. The child should have changes made at school. Everyone that is dealing with the child on a daily basis should be educated on the disorder. This way the people that are constantly around the child are able to help the child and steer him or her in the right direction. This will help the child to prevent an episode.

There are other ways to help the child when it comes to treatment. The child and family members need to be consistent. This means making and keeping a schedule. The schedule should include what the doctor is prescribing whether it be both medication and or therapy.

The earlier the child is diagnosed with the disorder there is a better chance that the doctor will be able to help the child control the symptoms. The doctor should work with the family and the child to come up with a treatment plan that works for the child and one that they will follow. This should be something that does not bring stress into the child's life.

If more stress is brought into the child's life by implementing this treatment plan the child might regress. If this happens it may affect the child in a negative way. Having the child on a schedule and keeping it will help keep the child on track with treatment that will help and not take away. The child should also be taking their medication as the doctor ordered and not as they choose.


Children with bipolar in their family history are more likely to get the disorder. Bipolar disorder is proven to be a genetic disorder. The chances of the disorder being inherited are extremely high.

Published in the (June 16, 2003 issue of the journal Molecular Psychiatry) the gene that is in the brain that regulates how sensitive one is has some sort of deficiency. This gene that does not possess the child to have the same sort of sensitivity that his or her peers. The lack of this gene will cause the child to have the bipolar disorder. This gene that has the deficiency in the child will then typically be found in either one of the parents or both. This is something that is passed on genetically. (Kelsoe and Barrett, Researchers Identify Gene Involved in Bipolar Disorder, 2003)

The following statistics support the search for the genetic origins of bipolar disorder according to (Hellander, Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation, 2007). There are many statistics that fall into place when it comes to genetics. The child is more than 20% likely to have the disorder if 1 parent has it. If both parents are diagnosed with the disorder the child is more than 50% likely to have what the parents have this can also be in the upwards of 75%.

There is a low percentage that affects the population of the US. The percentage that is known to be affected is as low as 1-3 percent. This is a low percentage. These numbers go to show that the disorder is more than likely to be a genetic disorder and not something that someone can catch like a cold.

There is a chance that children who have bipolar disorder may have gotten it when they were in the womb by the mother abusing substances or the parent has an unfound mood disorder. There is also a possibility that both of these could be in effect.

In the past there were not as many diagnosis of the bipolar disorder and was not as well know as it is today. There was a chance that relatives that showed the symptoms of the disorder were not treated with the proper treatment. There may have been a chance that they were disregarded and or hospitalized for the illness.

When and if the disorder is left untreated the family member might take the matter into their own hands and try to self medicate. This self medication can include alcohol and possibly illegal drugs. This type of behavior may have led the family member into even deeper depression and or life difficulties. The family member at this point would have difficulty holding down a job and living a typical life. (Hellander, Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation, 2007)

Bipolar disorder is something that can be managed. This is a disorder that with therapy and a support system the child will most likely be able to cope and control the symptoms. The child may still lash out here and there at the people he or she loves the most, but when coached properly the child is able to keep themselves in control. If a distinct schedule is put into place and followed diligently the child will be a success.


American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author

Singh MK, Delbello MP, Kowatch RA, Strakowski SM., Co-occurrence of bipolar and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorders in children, 2006

Harry Croft, MD (Psychiatrist), Types of Bipolar Medications, Jul 08, 2009

Martha Hellander (J.D.), Sheila McDonald (J.D.), Lisa Pedersen (M.A.), and Susan Resko (M.M.), Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation, 2007

Dr. Duffy and her colleagues, Genetics and Risk, 2005

Kelsoe and Barrett, Researchers Identify Gene Involved in Bipolar Disorder, June 15, 2003

Joan Arehart-Treichel, Rise in Hospitalization of Youth for Bipolar Disorder Puzzles Experts, 2007

Michael G. Conner, Depression, Bipolar Disorder and ADHD in Children, 2006 to 2008

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