Bipolar only at Home with Mom?

by Colleen
(SW Washington State)

My 7 year old has been difficult from the beginning. The pediatrician at one point prescribed phenobarbital to make him less agitated and hopefully sleep better (he was only 2 months old!).

As a toddler we had tubes put in hoping that might help. Next his tonsils were removed. Finally he was in therapy for minor sensory issues. Nothing seemed to work. No one else saw it though.

Even his dad thought it was how I was parenting him despite the fact that we have an older wonderfully behaved child. His teachers all tell me he is an absolute delight and angel. He is verbally nasty to his brother and I mostly, using language he knows we don't approve of, hitting (brother not me), and has violent outbursts when he doesn't get his way.

He also has been fixated on things like war, what it feels like to be hurt in certain ways, dying, bleeding/bleeding to death, etc. I'm sure there is much more but this is getting long.

I guess my question though is do the symptoms have to be extreme or can it be having a multitude of them?

And can a bi-polar child control their behavior at times? Like in school or at grandparents. I'm very concerned about a doctor diagnosing/medicating because I ask about it. Thank you for any help you may have.

p.s. I have been medicated for depression since my teens and am now on a "cocktail" that works wonderfully. My biological father has undiagnosed mental illness (very likely bi-polar/narcissistic). My maternal grandfather had a 'nervous breakdown'. Definitely a strong genetic history!

Hi Colleen:

My experience is that children who have an early onset of bipolar very often begin their behavior primarily with their primary caretaker or in the family.

Frequently I will have psychiatrists argue that it is behavioral on the basis that they are not having the same behavior problems across different settings.

I disagree with this assessment because what I see happening is that children begin at home and then it spreads to other areas as the illness progresses and advances. They also may begin with one person ( like mom) and then as things get worse it spreads to dad, grandma teachers etc.

I also believe this about symptoms. They may start in one area ( for example ) anxiety and later spread to a more typical display of mood instability.

I don't know how much research their is to prove this, but this has been my own personal experience.

Comments for Bipolar only at Home with Mom?

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Nov 02, 2015
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Jun 03, 2014
Same thing for us NEW
by: Anonymous

For years my son had horrible rage at home but was a perfect student at school. Teachers and other moms could not believe me that he had a temper. It was awful. Finally we found a good family therapist when he was 10. After just a few months he highly recommended medication. He referred us to another doctor, who diagnosed a mood disorder, OCD, possible bipolar. We started him on Zoloft and it made a huge difference. There were far fewer severe anger episodes. However, when he turned 13 (huge growth spurt) we needed to increase his meds and we didn't fast enough. He spiraled into a major depression during 8th grade. We are still recovering from that, but definitely getting better. Therapy doesn't always seem to help. But I think it is important to keep up with therapy and keep that familiarity. Routine is also important.

Hope my story helps someone feel better. It's lonely when my friends don't understand what I'm going through. They sympathize but really don't understand.

Apr 01, 2013
Anyone have any promising experiences? NEW
by: Worried mom

I have a son who is exactly the way you all describe and now he is becoming very violent towards himself . Has anyone had any luck with a certain med or any other treatment? I am desperate to find help to be able to survive thru this)-:

Jul 20, 2011
by: Original Poster

It has been so long since I originally posted this on here! We continued to struggle until last Fall when I finally took him to our pediatrician and said I was ready to medicate. After nearly a year of trial and error and four, yes FOUR, doctors (in just one year) later we finally got a diagnosis today! He is currently on 5mg of Prozac and has been for about 5 months or so. I filled out the questions for his current behavior (while medicated). It came back off the chart for Oppositional Defiant Disorder, very high for major depressive and almost as high for anxiety. The last two of which the doctor said would have probably been much higher with out medication. While he isn't currently diagnosed with bi-polar I do believe he will need to be watched for it very closely as he grows. Right now, he is almost 10 and is doing signifigantly better with the Prozac. Our house is a much calmer place to be and we aren't constantly walking on egg shells. We found a therapist who is wonderful and our son loves to go - which is half the battle! For all of you still struggling, just know that you are not alone! Keep at it, beat down every doctor's door until you find the right one. This current one of our's is on staff at a major teaching hospital, a children's hospital and local university. I had to wait three months for an appointment but I felt if he was that popular then it was worth the wait. And it was!

Jul 20, 2011
My Daughter is the Same
by: Crystal C.

At home, by 8 year old daugher, with Bi-Polar, Sensory Processing Disorder and Non-Verbal Learning Disability can be an absolute angel at school, as long as her programming is in place. At home, it is a different story all together. She is an absolute terror and very unsafe. I believe that the school thinks it is something with our parenting. That a diagnoses is there, and may be accurate, but that we don't have the right routine, or try hard enough. Our people say that she is doing everything she can to hold it together during the day and then just explodes at night, where she knows she is safe, love, and more comfortable.

For what its worth...

May 31, 2011
A Big "Us Too"
by: Kristi

We have been trying for years to find out what is going on with our soon to be 9yr old daughter, same scenerio, verbally abusive to me, her father, grandparents (only the maternal ones though, b/c she is w/ them more often, her little sister at times but most of the abuse gets pushed onto her brother 17mos her junoir. We are on constant eggshells at home with this child, the entire family. At school since she was 2 yr old in preschool they tell us how quiet she is, how respectful, same thing, she'd bottle it up, shut down and tune out and then just BLOW at home. We are still trying desperately to get appropriate meds and diagnosis. We too have LONG list of mentally ill relatives, I am convinced I have ADHD as well and just never diagnosed, there have been 3 people for certain w/ bi polar disorder and 2 suicides in our family (my aunt, husband's uncle) and drug abuse (self-medication) run galore. One therapist did say they can at this age still turn it off when needed but as they get older, the true issues will continue to show their ugly head, even in environments like school. Good Luck and God Bless, we are right therre w/ you.

May 14, 2010
bp only at home with mom
by: Connie

This is very common. I had so many people including professionals judge me. Why would she act like that with mom and not outside the home? It is a terrible feeling for a mom to continuously dought yourself. As my daughter grew up...the behaviors did come out with others and in other settings. The right medication cocktial is important and a good therapist that gets bp in kids. Hang in does get better.

Feb 04, 2010
by: Daisy

OMG Yes! They can hide these behaviors. What I have found out having a 12 yr old diagnosed for past seven years with bipolar,ocd and odd. And I have a hard time wrapping my head around this fact but know it true is that at school for instance they dont want the teacher or other students to see how they are. They want to be like the other kids or are embarrased. And when they go to other parents or grand parents on the weekends they hide with all their might. Then.....the fun begins when they get home from school or from the weekend they meltdown and sometimes bigtime. They use all their energy and might to keep this in and sometimes are frustrated by teachers and others that when they get home where they feel safe they let it all out. Through the past years and with good therapy and coping strategies the meltdowns have gotten way better. Good luck to you.

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