Mood Disorders: Bipolar in Children and Teens

Reviewed Jun 30, 2017

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Summary

Symptoms of bipolar disorder include:

  • Severe mood swings from mania to depression
  • Believing they can do things they can’t
  • Doing too many things in too little time

Severe mood swings

Bipolar disorder can cause wide mood swings. The mood swings can range from mania (excited, high, or frantic) to depression (sad, hopeless). There are periods of normal moods as well. It can affect people of all ages, sexes, and races. It can affects people at all income levels. It is most often first diagnosed in adults. Once in a while, it is diagnosed in teens. In rare cases, it has been diagnosed in children as young as 5.

In adults, these moods can last weeks or months. In children or teens, the mood swings happen much more often. In fact, in many children, the mood swings cycle many times within a day. The symptoms can be similar to those of disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD). DMDD is characterized by dark moods and temper tantrums that are not age appropriate.

A child with bipolar disorder may also have other mental health issues, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). They may also have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Some may have drug or alcohol problems or oppositional disorders.

Mania

Everyone has mood swings. But, a person with bipolar disorder has extreme mood swings. The moods vary from mania to depression. The person’s feelings may become so intense that they lose touch with the real world. A person who has mania might have these symptoms:

  • Feel on top of the world
  • Think they can do things they never learned how to do such as play the piano
  • Do too many things in too little time
  • Sleep very little without feeling tired
  • Get bothered or annoyed by small things
  • Have poor judgment that leads to risky behavior and to do things they normally wouldn’t do

Depression

In a child with bipolar disorder, the depressive symptoms are like those an adult with depression. Each person with bipolar disorder is different. Some people may get very depressed for a long time, while others have only mild depression. People also have periods of normal moods in between the highs and lows.

Tips for parents

  • Don’t forget your parenting jobs. When your child acts out or misbehaves, she should have consequences, even if you think your child’s behavior was caused by her mood changes.
  • Don’t blame yourself. Poor parenting, divorce, or lack of discipline does not cause bipolar disorder. Scientists now believe that it is caused by genetic factors and biology.
  • Medicine is one of the most useful treatments for bipolar disorder. If the doctor prescribed meds, make sure your child is taking them. It may take a while to find the right mix of medicines, in the right amount. So, be patient.
  • Learn all you can about bipolar disorder. Help your child learn all he can about the disorder. Get facts from your doctor, trusted sites on the internet and from parent support groups.
By Haline Grublak, CPHQ
Reviewed by Philip Merideth, MD, Peer Advisor, Beacon Health Options

Summary

Symptoms of bipolar disorder include:

  • Severe mood swings from mania to depression
  • Believing they can do things they can’t
  • Doing too many things in too little time

Severe mood swings

Bipolar disorder can cause wide mood swings. The mood swings can range from mania (excited, high, or frantic) to depression (sad, hopeless). There are periods of normal moods as well. It can affect people of all ages, sexes, and races. It can affects people at all income levels. It is most often first diagnosed in adults. Once in a while, it is diagnosed in teens. In rare cases, it has been diagnosed in children as young as 5.

In adults, these moods can last weeks or months. In children or teens, the mood swings happen much more often. In fact, in many children, the mood swings cycle many times within a day. The symptoms can be similar to those of disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD). DMDD is characterized by dark moods and temper tantrums that are not age appropriate.

A child with bipolar disorder may also have other mental health issues, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). They may also have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Some may have drug or alcohol problems or oppositional disorders.

Mania

Everyone has mood swings. But, a person with bipolar disorder has extreme mood swings. The moods vary from mania to depression. The person’s feelings may become so intense that they lose touch with the real world. A person who has mania might have these symptoms:

  • Feel on top of the world
  • Think they can do things they never learned how to do such as play the piano
  • Do too many things in too little time
  • Sleep very little without feeling tired
  • Get bothered or annoyed by small things
  • Have poor judgment that leads to risky behavior and to do things they normally wouldn’t do

Depression

In a child with bipolar disorder, the depressive symptoms are like those an adult with depression. Each person with bipolar disorder is different. Some people may get very depressed for a long time, while others have only mild depression. People also have periods of normal moods in between the highs and lows.

Tips for parents

  • Don’t forget your parenting jobs. When your child acts out or misbehaves, she should have consequences, even if you think your child’s behavior was caused by her mood changes.
  • Don’t blame yourself. Poor parenting, divorce, or lack of discipline does not cause bipolar disorder. Scientists now believe that it is caused by genetic factors and biology.
  • Medicine is one of the most useful treatments for bipolar disorder. If the doctor prescribed meds, make sure your child is taking them. It may take a while to find the right mix of medicines, in the right amount. So, be patient.
  • Learn all you can about bipolar disorder. Help your child learn all he can about the disorder. Get facts from your doctor, trusted sites on the internet and from parent support groups.
By Haline Grublak, CPHQ
Reviewed by Philip Merideth, MD, Peer Advisor, Beacon Health Options

Summary

Symptoms of bipolar disorder include:

  • Severe mood swings from mania to depression
  • Believing they can do things they can’t
  • Doing too many things in too little time

Severe mood swings

Bipolar disorder can cause wide mood swings. The mood swings can range from mania (excited, high, or frantic) to depression (sad, hopeless). There are periods of normal moods as well. It can affect people of all ages, sexes, and races. It can affects people at all income levels. It is most often first diagnosed in adults. Once in a while, it is diagnosed in teens. In rare cases, it has been diagnosed in children as young as 5.

In adults, these moods can last weeks or months. In children or teens, the mood swings happen much more often. In fact, in many children, the mood swings cycle many times within a day. The symptoms can be similar to those of disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD). DMDD is characterized by dark moods and temper tantrums that are not age appropriate.

A child with bipolar disorder may also have other mental health issues, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). They may also have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Some may have drug or alcohol problems or oppositional disorders.

Mania

Everyone has mood swings. But, a person with bipolar disorder has extreme mood swings. The moods vary from mania to depression. The person’s feelings may become so intense that they lose touch with the real world. A person who has mania might have these symptoms:

  • Feel on top of the world
  • Think they can do things they never learned how to do such as play the piano
  • Do too many things in too little time
  • Sleep very little without feeling tired
  • Get bothered or annoyed by small things
  • Have poor judgment that leads to risky behavior and to do things they normally wouldn’t do

Depression

In a child with bipolar disorder, the depressive symptoms are like those an adult with depression. Each person with bipolar disorder is different. Some people may get very depressed for a long time, while others have only mild depression. People also have periods of normal moods in between the highs and lows.

Tips for parents

  • Don’t forget your parenting jobs. When your child acts out or misbehaves, she should have consequences, even if you think your child’s behavior was caused by her mood changes.
  • Don’t blame yourself. Poor parenting, divorce, or lack of discipline does not cause bipolar disorder. Scientists now believe that it is caused by genetic factors and biology.
  • Medicine is one of the most useful treatments for bipolar disorder. If the doctor prescribed meds, make sure your child is taking them. It may take a while to find the right mix of medicines, in the right amount. So, be patient.
  • Learn all you can about bipolar disorder. Help your child learn all he can about the disorder. Get facts from your doctor, trusted sites on the internet and from parent support groups.
By Haline Grublak, CPHQ
Reviewed by Philip Merideth, MD, Peer Advisor, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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