Children and teenagers with bipolar disorders can have manic or depressive symptoms. Some children may mostly have depression and others a combination of manic and depressive symptoms. Highs are usually combined with alternative lows.
Bipolar disorders usually begin in childhood and during the teenage years, and may be diagnosed in adult life. This illness can affect anyone and without any specific history. If one or both parents have a bipolar disorder, the chances are greater that their children may develop it at an early age. Family history of drug or alcohol has also been associated with greater risk for bipolar disorders.
Symptoms of bipolar disorders in children and teenagers are - severe changes in -- unusually happy, silly, sometimes very irritable, angry, agitated or aggressive. Some teenagers experience unrealistic highs in self-esteem, for example, a teenager may start feeling very powerful or like a superhero with special powers. They may develop an increase in energy and the ability to go with little or no sleep for days without feeling tired. An adolescent may start talking too much, too fast and changes topics too frequently, without interruption due to depression. They also get distracted very easily, and attention moves constantly from one thing to another. They may also develop repetitive, high risk-taking behavior; such as abusing alcohol and drugs, reckless driving or sexual promiscuity
When a teenage is in a depression he or she may develop excessive irritability, depressed moods, unrelenting sadness, frequent crying, thoughts of death or suicide, loss of enjoyment in favorite activities, frequent complaints of physical illnesses such as headaches or stomach aches, low energy level, fatigue, poor concentration, complaints of boredom and a major change in eating or sleeping patterns, such as oversleeping or overeating.
Teenagers with bipolar disorder can be successfully treated. Treatments include educating the patient and their families about the illness, mood-stabilizing medications such as lithium and valproic acid and psychotherapy. Mood stabilizing medications will often reduce the severity of manic episodes, and also help prevent depression. Psychotherapy helps a child adapt to stresses, rebuild self-esteem and enhance relationships. The diagnosis of bipolar disorders in children and teens is complicated and involves careful observation over an extended period of time.