Bipolar Disorder or Disrupted Attachment?

by Amber
(Arkansas)

We have a 4 year old daughter. She was in foster care from 11 months until 14 months because her biological mother was a drug addicted and got picked up while the children were in her custody.


She was the youngest of her mother's children. We have had her for 3 years with constant behavior and mental issues. We have not had her checked because we thought she would grow out of it. She has recently started HeadStart and they have issues with her being fine one minute and the next throwing a tantrum for nothing. She hits the teacher and other kids and bites. We do not have this issue at home. She is very distant from her other 3 sibling and enjoys playing alone.

Her teacher wants us to put her in counseling. I'm concerned that she may have bipolar because she does appear distant from other, address anger with abuse, and has a separation issue with me (her step mother). She will leave her father easily without fits but she clings to me. We are expecting baby number 5 and people have addresses concerns with bring a newborn in the home around her.


Does this sound like bipolar disorder to you or something else?

Hi Amber. I realize I am answering you a year later. I have been inundated with questions and haven't been able to keep up! The problem here is that due to her early experiences ( first 14 months) she could certainly have severe problems that result from the attachment process being disrupted.

The initial bonding period with the mother is responsible for organizing a child's nervous system, sense of safety and trust, and often lays the groundwork for future relationships. Spending time in foster care, as well as with a perhaps inattentive and neglectful mother could severely impair her capacity to have healthy relationships and to regulate her emotions. As could being born to someone who was using drugs during pregnancy.Certainly its possible that she is bipolar, if her mom or other relatives were, but it would be very challenging to attribute her behaviors to that from the information you have given me.

ABSOLUTELY she should be in in therapy. Please let us know how she is doing.



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