Bipolar Disorder in Children: All You Need To Know About The Manic Illness


What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is, in a literal sense, a brain disorder which is also known as “Manic-depressive illness”. As being a brain disorder it affects minds by making unusuality into our minds which causes unusual shifts in mood, energy and the ability to carry out activities on a day to day basis.

It is primarily a biological disorder, occurs in any specific part of the brain and due to any dysfunction of the chemical messengers in the brain.

It is a very common chronic disorder, which has been experienced by 10 million people in the world. And among 10 million people, there is a wide range of children who experience this illness.

Bipolar disorder in children

Bipolar disorder is a serious brain illness. it can affect anyone,

This illness usually develops in late teens or early adult, and usually lasts a lifetime.

Does your child is scolded for being extra moody? Does your child have a tendency to be very hyperactive at one moment and another moment your child becomes lazy? Does your child have ups and downs in their behavioral aspect more than other kids? If yes, then hold on and understand the symptoms, are they experiencing bipolar disorder?

Like adults, children with bipolar disorder experience an elevated mood, they can be very happy and excited and can be into a different depressive period. The changes are very pronounced. Although bipolar disorder is more common in adults and young teenagers, it can appear in children as young as 6 years old.

Types of bipolar disorder

  • Bipolar disorder 1-  it includes severe mood episodes from mania to depression lasting for a week or less may be hospitalized,  the symptoms involve not able to sleep or racing of the thoughts continuously.
  • Bipolar disorder 2- it is a milder form of mood elevation, less severe mania and other symptoms

What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder in children?

  •  Severe mood swings that are varied from other usual mood swings, from highs of hyperactivity to the lows of depression. Or feels very happy or act silly in a way which is unusual of their age.
  • Feeling extremely low, don’t feel like playing, over or undereating
  • Extremely hyperactive, impulsive, socially inappropriate behavior. Does not like to be around with other kids, or even if they are, often would jump into the behaviour of hurting the other kid, behaving so differently.
  • Insomnia or not able to sleep even if trying to sleep, all the thoughts coming into mind, but not sleeping, constant thought game revolving into their minds. Not able to sleep even if they are tired.
  • Depressed for no reason and constant irritable mood all day again for no reason, not replying back to the questions into a decent tone, always in a rebel tone.
  • Perilous actions or reckless actions which comes out of the character, which includes alcohol or drug abuse 
  • Thinking and talking more about sex, wanting to have sex in the case of young teens.

  • Suicidal thoughts in young teens or children, they often would occur the name of doing suicide at any aggressive mood. Any scolding or failure leads them into the captive of these suicidal thoughts in every small situation.
  • Complain about pain in the head or stomach often.
  • Do not have energy for fun activities, feel low most of the times

Children experience these symptoms in distinct episodes or intervals, after showing these symptoms they return to their normal condition, it is important for the parents, families to detect these signs and consult their family doctor, any indifferent or abnormal behavior of any of these above-mentioned symptoms is the byproduct of bipolar disorder in children, which parents must seek as warning and start the treatment according to the illness.

What are other problems along with bipolar disorder?

ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder can cause bipolar disorder or both disorders can affect children side by side becoming the cause of each other.

Anxiety disorder, like separation anxiety that can be due to any separation feeling the child is experiencing.

Oppositional defiant disorder: it is a disorder developed in children, children with ODD are uncooperative, hostile towards peers, parents, teachers, defiant.

Substance abuse: both children and adults are at risk of taking drugs or become 

addictive as the cause of bipolar disorder.

These problems arise due to the bipolar ailment working in their bodies, there are certain behavioral actions that go along with mood swings, such as suicidal thoughts and actions, if it has been prevalent in your child’s behavior, take it seriously these signs and consult to mental health doctor. 

It is important to note that serious mood swings and different behavioral actions caused by bipolar disorder can lead to serious traumatic difficulties. It is imperative to diagnose as early as it could be.

What is the Diagnosis of bipolar disorder in children?

The exact cause of the disorder is yet to be found out, but it has been claimed by the doctors that the most prominent reasons are Hormonal imbalance or any environment factors such as abuse, mental stress and genetics.

It is a serious mental illness, if left untreated it can lead to further destroy the mental health of the person and as children”s minds are still growing it can be more impactful in a more damaging situation.

Though there has been no permanent diagnosis of it, it is a life long treatment which includes proper medication and psychotherapy.

  • Treatments of bipolar disorder in children 
  1. Medications: a proper medication is needed by children at a very young age, they react to certain medicines.
  •  It is totally dependent on the child how he/she has been receiving the medications, sometimes the effect on the child is more in some cases or less in some cases.
  • It is very important to note that children must be given less number of dosage, as there can be a number of different side effects of the medicines to the children.
  • Any side effects to the child, immediately consult the child”s doctor, the doctor has to be aware of all the issues and side effects and effects of the medicines.
  • We have to be cautious about all the medicines as well as its dosages

    • Doctors recommend the fewest of medicines to a child, with low dosages of the medicines

  • Also do not stop giving the medication without consulting the doctor, stopping the medication can lead to further dangerous symptoms

2. Psychotherapy; different kinds of psycho or talk therapies can help a child suffering from bipolar disorder. The talk therapy can be effective as it involves talking to the child in a friendly and comfortable manner in which the child discloses their feelings, thoughts about everything, there are different types of talk therapy are :

  •    Behavioral therapy: which helps to know the current behavior of the child, which     helps decrease the stress of the child
  • Cognitive therapy: this approach helps to know the identity and modify the thinking patterns that accompany mood swings.
  •  Interpersonal therapy: this involves building relationships and reducing the strains of illness that may place on the children.
  • Social rhythm therapy: this helps to develop a normal sleep schedule for the child who is having trouble sleeping.

Eating and having a good amount of sleep is very crucial for the person with the disorder to cope with the treatments especially children, so that the disorder shouldn’t lead to further problems, the body has to get a good amount of energy.

A regular activity, and Making your child understand the early symptoms of illness all the highs and lows also very crucial, they must understand their activities. 

What are the results of the treatments that can be expected in children?

  • With the proper treatment given, the children or the young teen start to get better with time. It is most effective when together the doctor, parents, friends talk to the child.
  • Talking plays a pivotal role in shaping the personality of the child or any person, lots of love and patience with a child makes the child better over a period of time.
  • Sometimes the cause can be that the child has reached to the next level of bipolar disorder which involves a different type of diagnosis, symptoms have changed, the reaction level of the medications have changed, at these scenario doctors may recommend other treatments or other medications.
  • A daily proper chart of the growth or downfall of your child”s illness of their mood swings, or hyperactive or impulsive reactions can be noted down to understand the treatments and development of the symptoms and how much it is needed to work and cure accordingly.

How to help my child with bipolar disorder

  • Be patient
  • Be loving and calm with them
  • Show them respect even if they are impulsive
  • Be understanding of their mood swings
  • Encourage them to talk more and listen to them even more carefully
  • Have fun with them as much as you can
  • Make them understand with lots of patience and love that treatment can make them better persons.

How it affects the child’s parents?

It is very obvious that it becomes very stressful for the parents and families to cope up with their different difficult mood swings, you must be tired and in a lot of becomes a great difficult challenge to fight back in a calmer way to their short temper ways and behavior which is full of stress,

Along with taking care of your child, it is also essential to take care of yourself as well, talk to people you are comfortable with, talk to them about your feelings, seek the doctor of support and hope. If you are able to cope up with stress, it will become easier for you to a better job with your child, it might help your child to cope with their illness.

Take complete care of yourselves as parents.

What to do when seeing another child in crisis? 

  • Do not leave the child alone, be with him/her
  • Call the concerned mental health doctor
  • Or call any concerned authority of Mental Health 

In a recent survey of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder( DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association, the researchers have found out new pediatric mood disorder called Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD). Children can be diagnosed with DMDD between the ages of 6 to 18 years, and many of the signs of DMDD are similar to bipolar disorder. Some of the signs are temper outbursts, irritability, and anger. 

A child cannot receive a diagnosis of both bipolar disorder and DMDD, so the mental health doctor must know and determine which diagnosis most prominently hovering in a child’s actions and behavior.

A child is very delicate until their growing years, and illnesses like these can be harmful if left untreated with the right diagnosis, take care of your child with lots of patience and love. 

Have a good treatment plan along with your family doctor, make sure your child gets comfortable with a doctor as soon as possible, there could be overlapping of the symptoms, which has to be diagnosed with time.

Take care of your child and being a parent as well, things will soothe with time and with the right treatment, stay happy and keep smiling.


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