Sadly, Bipolar Disorder affects 3.4 million children every year, as early as the age of six.
What is worse is that the symptoms of bipolar disorder often go unnoticed or misdiagnosed and these children never receive the proper help until they reach adulthood. While it is not known why certain children develop bipolar disorder, inheritability and traumatic experiences have been pinpointed in some studies as common themes pointing towards the possibility of the disorders appearance.
Some common symptoms in children include bed wetting, compulsive behavior, night terrors, bossiness, lying, property destruction, temper tantrums, hyperactivity, lethargy, distractibility, and impulsivity. Some of the first signs to watch for in children including talk of wanting to die or trying to jump out of a vehicle. While opposition to parents is normal at times for children and adolescents, it can take years before parents realize that their children may suffer from bipolar disorder.
The difference in expected defiant behavior and bipolar disorder is that bipolar disorder will impair a child’s ability to function in school, with peers, and at home with family. The more years that could go by before diagnosis, more harm can occur to the child and possibly lead to other disorders, such as depression, oppositional-defiant disorder, attention-deficit disorder with hyperactivity, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and Tourette’s syndrome.
If parents suspect bipolar disorder in their child, they should seek the help of a child psychiatrist. It may be helpful to keep a diary of child’s behavior, moods, and comments prior to seeing the psychiatrist to be able to show a regular pattern of erratic behavior.
Treatment of bipolar disorder in children is essential as many children are frequently misdiagnosed as having an anxiety disorder.
There are no specific bipolar disorder tests but diagnosis can be determined by psychological tests administered by an Orange County child psychologist.
It is difficult to diagnose bipolar disorder in children as the child must show periods of manic or depressive episodes. With various emotions, these periods can be difficult to find in a child in a short period of time. For this reason, it is important that parents take children with possible signs of bipolar disorder to a psychiatrist upon first signs of the disorder.
Continuous follow up care is recommended
Once diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a psychiatrist can start a medication plan to help the child maintain the feelings that are associated with the disorder. Oral medication can be administered with a variety of other methods such as behavioral therapy, social skills training, family therapy, and group therapy, which can help the child, as well as parents and other relatives, cope with bipolar disorder.