How to Recognize Childhood Bipolar
could talk for hours about Childhood Bipolar Disorder. It's painful
to everyone involved. It's scary. It's sad. It's damaging to the whole
It can be controlled and you can learn to live with
Bipolar was not diagnosed in children until recently because children
don't present with the same symptoms as adults. Children cycle rapidly
and if they cycled every two
days that would be considered rapid....but children
can cycle every 5 minutes! Children can have what is called 'mixed
states' meaning that they can be manic and depressed at the same time!
Come on, how can you see this?
Children when manic can show serious irritability.
When children are depressed they can show serious
This irritability can manifest as rages. Rages that go on for more
than 30 minutes. Rages that involve destroying their own belongings,
hurting their parents and/or siblings, taking reckless chances such as
running away (really running away...not just sitting at the corner with
their teddy bear), climbing on the roof, beating on a sliding glass
How do you know when one is manic or depressed if they can both
result in irritability? Well, we were quick to say we had never seen our
daughter act depressed (and it's rare to see in her). And it
really didn't matter if she was manic or depressed, she was irritable to
the point of having huge, dangerous rages.
Once you find a knowledgeable professional and they
get a good history from you, you begin to see that the symptoms have
been there for the child's entire life.
For us it was:
- Insatiable appetite since infancy
- Hurting others to the point of leaving bruises or drawing blood,
even from a very young age (14 months for my daughter)
- Beginning the "terrible two's" before 2 years old, progressing
to the "horrible threes", and on to the "what could be wrong fours".
In other words, the expected tantrums from a 2 year old increase and
get worse as the child gets older.....they don't out grow it.
- Craving carbohydrates and sweets
- Sleep problems
- Rapid changes in mood....happy to angry in minutes
- Rages set off by parents saying "No". It doesn't matter what the
no is to....a cookie or a sleep over, the rage will ensue just the
- Pressured Speech
- Constant Movement
- Lots of projects going
- Obsession with one or more
- Inability to sleep
- Grandiosity or inflated sense
- Short attention span
- Racing ideas
- Risk-taking behavior--trying
things that are dangerous
- Sleeping too much
- Lack of interest in things
normally considered fun or interesting
- Suicidal thoughts
- Frequent complaints of physcial
- Major changes in eating or
- Low energy, boredom