Bipolar Disorder Q & A
What is bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is a brain disorder in which a sufferer has mood changes that go beyond the ordinary. While every child goes through ups and downs, bipolar disorder sufferers have much more extreme mood changes that can interfere with their daily lives.
What are symptoms of bipolar disorder?
Symptoms are grouped into "mood episodes." There are three types of mood episodes: manic episodes, depressive episodes, and a blend of the two called mixed episodes. In manic episodes, the child may be quick to anger, have a very rapid-fire manner of speaking, struggle to stay focused, tend to engage in dangerous behaviors, and be unable to sleep. In a depressive episode, the child is noticeably sad, sleep much more (or sometimes much less), have feelings of worthlessness, may think of suicide or self-harm, and may lose interest in their usual friends and activities. In mixed episodes, children have symptoms of both mania and depression.
How long does an episode last?
Children suffering from bipolar disorder generally have episodes that last between 1 and 2 weeks, and in some cases longer than that. Generally, the symptoms will be fairly constant, lasting for the majority of a child's waking hours each day.
What other issues come with bipolar disorder?
Some children suffer from additional problems when they have bipolar disorder. Children may also suffer from substance abuse, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or anxiety disorders. It is important that parents work closely with the care provider to make sure that all symptoms are noted so that an effective treatment plan can be designed and followed.
How is bipolar disorder diagnosed?
One of the most important parts of bipolar disorder diagnosis is a consultation with the parents. Parents will need to answer questions regarding their child's moods, sleep habits, and behavior in general. This information will allow the best diagnosis to be made, which will, in turn, allow for the best treatment plan to be created.