A child that suffers from this disorder will have symptoms that are considerably different than those of an adult. The mood swings alone come on extremely fast and can cause to the child be angry and very irritable.
Determining whether a child has bipolar disorder can be more of a challenge because there are several other conditions that overlap with this mental illness.
· (ADHD) Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
· (ODD) Oppositional defiant disorder
· (OCD) Obsessive compulsive disorder
· (CD) Conduct disorder
· Learning disabilities
· Depressive disorders
Some of these symptoms include: bed wetting, social anxiety, environment triggers, night terrors, compulsive behavior, lethargy, bossiness, excessive day-dreaming, hyperactivity, motor & vocal tics, distractibility, low self-esteem, depressed moods, separation anxiety, risk-taking behaviors, frequent mood swings, hypersexuality, paranoia, restlessness/fidgetiness, lying, suicidal thoughts, learning disabilities, giddiness/goofiness/silliness, and moments of rage/explosive temper tantrums.
If you think your child suffers from bipolar disorder, you should keep three things in mind. (Family, Feeling, and Functionality)
Family- Does mental illness run in the family? Does anyone else suffer from bipolar disorder in the family? Studies show that over 10% of people that have a relative that suffers from bipolar disorder will also develop a bipolar disorder.
Feeling- Is your child moody? Do they spend a lot of time worrying about things most children don't think about? Does your child feel like they have no self-worth?
Functioning- How does your child handle school? Do they have friends their own age that they play with normally? Does their behavior interfere with daily functions?
(If your child has difficulty with daily functions and normal activities that most children enjoy, then an evaluation by a Psychiatrist may be needed.)
A doctor will compare symptoms and perform tests before diagnosing a child with a mental illness. First, they will want to rule out any other reasons that may be causing emotional illness. While they evaluate your child, the doctor will look for a cluster of problematic emotions or behaviors your child may be having.
There are three different methods regarding the best ways to approach diagnosing juvenile bipolar disorder.
1. Standard DSM-IV Criteria
2. Cardinal Symptoms
3. Emphasizing Irritability
As far as we know, there is no cure for bipolar disorders. Something to remember is that children usually respond differently to medication than adults. A doctor will be able to develop a treatment plan that is suitable for your child and will start by determining a child's mental and physical health.
After a plan is formed, it's advised to keep a daily log. This will help you and the doctors determine whether a specific medication is helpful or not.
If your child suffers from bipolar disorder, your love and guidance can make a big difference in their recovery and their future.
"Bipolar disorder can be a great teacher. It's a challenge, but it can set you up to be able to do almost anything else in your life." - Carrie Fisher.