Kids can have bipolar disorder, too
Diagnosed cases of bipolar disorder in children and adolescents have increased by 40 times in the last decade, according to studies done by the National Institutes of Health.
Bipolar disorder (manic-depressive) is a serious brain disorder, and children with the condition go through unusual mood changes.
“It’s not surprising to say that all children go through some type of mood swing and temper tantrums at times,” says Dr. Faisal Ahmed, a pediatric psychiatrist with Advocate Medical Group in Normal, Ill. “The difference with a child who is bipolar is that these mood swings are more pronounced. The important point is that not every mood swing is bipolar disorder. There are specific criteria which need be met before a diagnosis can be made.”
Dr. Ahmen says a bipolar episode may not have a definite culprit as these episodes may last for days. Parents may also find that their child has lost control and is unable to function.
Bipolar disorder represents in manic episodes and depression episodes. A manic episode, or “up,” is when the child feels extremely happy and energetic. A depression episode, or “down,” is when the child is less active and more sad than usual.
The new criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is used by mental health professionals to diagnose and classify mental disorders, requires that there has to be a clear change from a baseline personality during a bipolar episode in order for clear signs of elation or irritable mood to be present during episodes of mania. Sleep disturbances are also extremely common and often makes things worse.
According to revised criteria, mood symptoms need to occur most of the day, or throughout the day during an episode.
Symptoms of a manic episode include:
- A long period of feeling “high,” or an overly happy or outgoing mood
- Extreme irritability
- Talking very fast, jumping from one idea to another, having racing thoughts
- Being easily distracted
- Increasing activities, such as taking on new projects
- Being overly restless
- Sleeping little or not being tired
- Having an unrealistic belief in one’s abilities
- Behaving impulsively and engaging in pleasurable, high-risk behaviors
Symptoms of a depressive episode include:
- An overly long period of feeling sad or hopelessness
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, including se.
- Feeling tired or “slowed down”
- Having problems concentrating, remembering, and making decisions
- Being restless or irritable
- Changing eating, sleeping, or other habits
- Thinking of death or suicide, or attempting suicide.
If you think your child is exhibiting this behavior, contact your physician. There are treatment options that include therapy and medication.
“It can take some time to find the right fit for your child and it may require some trial and error,” says Dr. Ahmed. “There is no known cure and treatment can be required for life. It is important to let parents know that their child can live a very healthy and productive life with the right care and treatment.”
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