How to Recognize the Signs and Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
Aug 27, 2019
Any parent knows that a child’s mood or behavior can change in an instant. This can happen for a variety of reasons. If you notice that your child has more highs and lows than other children, however, or gets more excited than other kids their age, it may be time to talk to your pediatrician or family doctor. Some children with these symptoms could have bipolar disorder.
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is a mental illness marked by episodes of mania and depression. It causes extreme mood swings which are accompanied by changes in the child’s energy level, sleep, thinking and behavior. These mood episodes are very different from the child’s typical moods and behaviors. Episodes can last hours, days, weeks or even months.
Bipolar disorder usually shows up in adolescence or early adulthood, but it can start in childhood. Those with a family history of bipolar disorder are more likely to have the condition. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, it is estimated that up to one-third of the 3.4 million children and teens with depression in the United States actually may be experiencing the early onset of bipolar disorder.
Children with bipolar disorder go through periods where they are extremely high or elated (manic episodes), extremely low or depressed (depressive episodes) or both.
Signs of a Manic Episode
Increased energy or activity levels
Needing less sleep, such as going for days with very little sleep and not getting tired
Acting jumpy or wired
Talking really fast about a lot of different things
Doing risky things
Inappropriate or uninhibited social behavior
Increased and excessive confidence
Signs of a Depressive Episode
Frequent sadness or crying
Withdrawal from friends and activities
Decreased energy level or feeling “slowed down”
Lack of enthusiasm or motivation
Major changes in habits, such as oversleeping or overeating
Frequent physical complaints, such as headaches or stomachaches
Decrease in self-esteem
Thoughts about death or suicide
Bipolar disorder is difficult to diagnose and sometimes takes ongoing assessment over time to clarify the diagnosis. While the disorder can be chronic, there are treatment options, including medication and therapy.
For more information about Big Lots Behavioral Health Services at Nationwide Children's Hospital, click here.
David Axelson, MD is recognized nationally and internationally for his work in the field of child and adolescent psychiatry, pediatric bipolar disorder, diagnostic biomarkers for pediatric mood disorders, and pediatric psychopharmacology.
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