Children and adolescents who suffer from pediatric bipolar disorder tend to exhibit either manic or depression symptoms. Commonly, periods of mania are followed by periods of depression. In most instances, these pediatric bipolar disorder symptoms begin to manifest themselves in a child between the ages of fourteen to eighteen. In almost all cases, the disorder will have fully developed by the time the child reaches the age of twenty five. Common manic symptoms include engaging in risky behaviors, being easily distracted, severe changes in mood, and an unexplainable increase in energy.
The most common depressive symptoms include loss of enjoyment in favorite activities, thoughts of suicide, low energy levels, and major changes in eating or sleeping patterns. If an individual’s child has symptoms matching the aforementioned ones, then he or she may need to take their child to be tested for pediatric bipolar disorder. Although rare, it is not unheard of for these symptoms to develop in children who have not yet reached adolescence.
Although the illness can affect any individual, it most commonly occurs in adolescents and young adults who have a close family member that suffers from major depression or bipolar disorder. Traumatic life events or a familial history of drug and alcohol abuse can also place a child at a higher risk for developing this disorder. Pediatric bipolar disorder can only be accurately diagnosed by a mental health professional.
The treatment of this pediatric bipolar disorder usually involves the consumption of mood stabilizing drugs, such as lithium or valproic acid. It is also common for patients with this disorder to receive psychotherapy. The therapy is critical in enabling a child to understand their disease, adapt to different stress triggers, and to build self esteem and relationships with others. It is a serious illness; however, it need not serve as a deterrent for a child to lead a normal and productive life.
Here are some helpful books on childhood and teen bipolar disorder.
The Bipolar Teen: What You Can Do to Help Your Child and Your Family by David J. Miklowitz PhD and Elizabeth L. George Phd.
What Works for Bipolar Kids: Help and Hope for Parents
by Mani Pavuluri MD PhD.