Bipolar Disorder Symptoms in children

Extreme Mood Swings Characterize Bipolar Disorder Symptoms in Children

This page describes bipolar disorder symptoms in children. Below are some links to other information about bipolar disorder you might find interesting. Click on the words and be taken to that page. Also, if you like my website please join my fan page for more updates. Like this page? Share it on face book or through another social networking site by clicking the links at the bottom of the page.

Bipolar disorder symptoms in children may be confused with other disorders. Anxiety disorders, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and Autistic Disorders all have overlapping criteria. Please feel free to use this information as a guideline if you suspect your child may have bipolar disorder. However, do not attempt to make the diagnosis yourself. Find a professional who is familiar with the disorder to make an official diagnosis.

Addtionally, as you see from listening to the radio interview on the left side on bipolar disorder symptoms in children, and reading other articles on this site, it is a controversal diagnosis. It is diffiucult to detect and complex to understand. Don't allow someone to tell you it doesn't exist in children, as it simply is not true. We don't fully understand how it manifests itself in children, however, it is real. 

Bipolar disorder, whether in an adult or child, is characterized by fluctuation between the mood states of depression and mania. Adults with bipolar disorder have distinct periods of mania (high energy moods) and depression (low energy moods). In children these states exist, but they are not easily distinguished and they shift rapidly many times a day. This rapid cycling and varying symptoms in children complicates our understand of bipolar disorder in children. Are you looking for more help with diagnostic issues? Are professionals giving you contradictory information? Read on to learn about symptoms of depression and mania.


DEPRESSION

Boredom

Adults who are depressed experience an inability to feel joy. Young children experience this as boredom. When they feel this way they may bother the adults around them. This can be infuriating and exhausting for the adults. However, these children are only trying to feel better. The boredom is scary and uncomfortable.

Irritability

Depressed children can be irritable and angry. They may make negative self statements such as “I hate myself” or “No one likes me”. They may become violent or aggressive when they are depressed and lash out, or they may isolate themselves. When kids are experiencing irritability they often get in trouble for being disrespectful to adults.

Changes in Sleep and Appetite

Depressed kids may lose their appetite or sleep more than usual.

Sadness

Sadness is another sign of child depression is sadness. Children may cry withdraw or otherwise indicate they are feeling sad. They may have trouble expressing these emotions depending on their age. Bipolar toddler symptoms are much more difficult to identify because their verbal skills are not as sophisticated. Toddlers may cry and whine and may seem less playful.

Morbid Thoughts

Children who are depressed may be preoccupied with morbid thoughts and their play and artwork usually reflects this. For example, one occasion I had a parent who brought in a child who was “just not himself”. During the first session he drew a picture of a headstone with his name on it. He was clearly experiencing suicidal thoughts.

MANIA

Bipolar disorder symptoms in children include the mood state of mania. Mania is defined by some of the features below.

Silliness

Young children experiencing mania may laugh hysterically for no reason. They act goofy and out of control, but rarely do other people with them understand why.

Grandiosity

Manic children make statements about how wonderful they are, or all of the things they can do. In therapy children who are experiencing mania have told me they can fly like superman, beat up their father or that they are stronger than any superhero. They may also become excited without a reason, talk quickly without much breath between words, or jump from topic to topic.

Decreased Need for Sleep

Children experiencing mania need less sleep or may stay up all night. Bipolar disorder symptoms in children usually include some kind of sleep disruption. Parents will often come in and say kids were up moving around the furniture, taking things apart or going through their clothes, closets and cabinets looking for something to do.

Hyper-sexuality

Children with mania may become interested in sexuality without any evidence of sexual abuse. These children act flirtatious beyond their years, may try to touch the private areas of adults (including teachers), or use explicit sexual language.

There is a great deal of overlap between mania symptoms and depression symptoms. For example irritability and aggression are symptoms of both mood states. Bipolar disorder symptoms in children include rapid and dramatic mood shifts often many times during one day. Even if you are able to distinguish between the two states, they can disappear just as quickly as you identify them.


Child Bipolar is a Spectrum Disorder

Child Bipolar is a Spectrum Disorder

Bipolar disorder symptoms in children are different from child to child. This means that some kids have it worse than others. For example, one child may have a great amount of difficulty with hyper-sexuality while another child with the diagnosis has no hyper-sexuality. Other symptoms noted to occur in children with bipolar disorder are listed below. These traits may also be associated with many other mental health conditions in children. Just because a child has tantrums does not necessarily mean they have bipolar disorder! Remember it is extremely difficult to diagnosis bipolar disorder for a variety of reasons, if you feel your child has bipolar make sure to get your child evaluated by a professional who has experience.

  • Tantrums which last an extraordinary length of time
  • Aggression, property destruction or bad language that is normally uncharacteristic of a child
  • Obsession with gore or violence
  • Suicide threats or threats to kill and murder
  • Vivid night terrors
  • Reverse sleep wake cycle or other sleep disturbances. Often these children have great difficulty getting up in the morning and increased energy in the evening
  • Sensory integration issues
  • Severe anxiety, panic attacks, obsessive compulsive patterns, separation anxiety
  • Hoarding
  • Poor ability to regulate appetite
  • Poor self esteem
  • Difficulty writing and shaping letters
  • A discrepancy between verbal and performance IQ


Everything you ever wanted to learn about bipolar disorder across all the different ages by clicking the links below.


Leave bipolar symptoms in children to learn about Homeschooling my bipolar child

Toddlers

Bipolar and school

Bipolar Disorder and creativity

Bipolar and ADHD

Bipolar and meds

More about bipolar and meds

Parents with  bipolar disorder

More about parents and bipolar disorder

Support groups

Symptoms

Treatments

Misdiagnosis of bipolar

 How to handle anger

 Learn about Seroquel and anger in children

Visit a checklist on bipolar disorder in children

Visit a page for helpful parenting techniques  for anger in bipolar children

Learn more about parenting techniques that promote emotional regulation

Stress Management techniques

ADHD and parenting

Bipolar disorder and memory

Natural treatments for bipolar disorder

Family members with bipolar disorder

Bipolar and diet

Bipolar disorder and relationships

Bipolar disorder and alcoholism

Lithium

Cognitive behavioral therapy for bipolar

The best external site for information about bipolar children

Check out our online facebook support community for parents of kids with mood disorder. 

Medical information obtained from our website is not intended as a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you have a problem, you should consult a healthcare provider.

Check out bipolar disorder in the news!

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