Both ADHD and bipolar disorder share many of the same characteristics, such as behavioral and emotional changes, impulsivity, hyperactivity, and learning problems. In addition, restlessness during sleep is common with both disorders, and the same treatments are generally effective. So how do you tell whether your child has bipolar disorder or ADHD?
Children with ADHD tend to be destructive, but only in a careless natural way. Bipolar children show major temper tantrums and destroy things in fits of manic rage, and no effort taken will seem to console them.
2.) Duration of Outbursts
In bipolar children, the length of their angry outbursts will last over 30 minutes, and can continue for hours. In children with ADHD, bursts of anger will not last over half an hour.
While hyperactive children have episodes due to over stimulation, such as a change in scenery or a relative visiting for the weekend, bipolar children have outbursts due to conflict with authority figures, such as parents. In addition, manic depressive children hate being told no, and they will have fits just to test the limits of their parents.
While the mania of bipolar disorder may mimic ADHD, hyperactivity children don't suffer from depression. If a child's mood switches from anger to sadness in the course of a day, or even hours, their diagnosis is bipolar disorder.
Children with ADHD will have universal learning difficulties, while bipolar children have certain specialties, which they have great knowledge of. Sometimes a bipolar child will surprise adults with their advanced knowledge of a certain field, due to their intense interest in that area.