Until recently, Bipolar disorder, a serious, nevertheless treatable mental illness was rarely diagnosis in young children. The symptoms of this mental illness included extreme changes in mood, energy, thinking, and behavior. Today, doctors can recognize this illness and treat them accordingly in young children.
Also known as manic depression, bipolar disorder symptoms can appear as early as infancy stage. The signs and symptoms include an erratic sleep patterns and much difficulty settling a baby who is diagnosed later in life as having bipolar disorder. Separation anxiety or extreme tantrums and rages may have had happened in the toddler's life.
While children with bipolar disorder do not experience the same syndromes that most adults do, children with bipolar disorder still display signs and traits like changes in mood and behavior that is known to be symptoms of the disorder. Children suffering from moods swings are known as episodes and there are generally two types of episodes. Episodes of extreme elation or agitation followed by high energy are known as mania. Persistent states of extreme sadness or irritability followed by low energy are known as depression.
Unlike most adults, manic depression may seem to be different in children. Children more often suffer from an ongoing mood disturbance that is a mix of mania and depression. This rapid and severe cycling between moods produces chronic irritability and few clear periods of wellness between episodes. Rapid cycling is common among children with bipolar disorder and they may well experience several episodes of mania and depression within a single day. They may also experience mixed cycling where the symptoms of both mania and depression occur simultaneously.
It is also common to find other mental disorders to be diagnosed in bipolar children. These other diagnoses may be in addition to the bipolar disorder, or they may be an incorrect diagnosis of symptoms of bipolar disorder. Some of the commonly found mental disorders are Depression, ADHD (Attention Defecit Hyperactivity Disorder), ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder), schizophrenia, and Tourette syndrome.
Today, it is suspected that numerous children diagnosed with attention-deficit disorder with hyperactivity (ADHD) actually have bipolar disorder instead of ADHD. Misdiagnosis on the doctors' part can lead to giving the wrong medication. This can be a serious mistake as it could easily trigger mania or suicidal thoughts within the children.
For some teenagers, it is found that a dearly loss or other traumatic event could trigger a first episode of depression or mania. In later stages, episodes can happen without any obvious stresses, or could even worsen if stress comes along into their life. Puberty is also a time of risk. In girls, the beginning of menstruation may trigger the illness, and symptoms often vary in severity with the monthly cycle.
Early intervention and treatment is the best bet to help young children recover from bipolar disorder. It is also the best chance for them to achieve stability and grow up to enjoy their life thereafter. Effective treatment should be soughed out as fast as possible to control the symptoms and to diminish the negative effects of the illness on their young lives and those who love them so dearly.