Mommy in need of answers.

by Angela

I have an adopted son I have had him since he was born he is now 2 and his birthmom has severe bipolar. Lately he is having very bad night terrors and tantrums. What is the likelyhood that this was passed down? Is it very high or moderate. He has severe separation anxiety from me as well.

Bipolar disorder is has a very high heritablity rate. If one twin has bipolar it is 40-70 pecent likely the other twin will. There is also some evidence to suggest that the age of onset becomes earlier in each successive generation.

If a parent has bipolar disorder, that child is almost 3x more likely to have a mental health disorder and is 4x more likely than a child without a bipolar parent to have bipolar disorder. ALso recent studies have found as much as half of the children with a bipolar parent have a diagnosable mental illness.

Bipolar disorder is a spectrum disorder, in children symptoms vary. Bipolar in kids is unique in that the symptoms are not as clear cut as they are in adults. Bipolar in kids also has not been studied extensively enough for us to understand how it changes as the children age.

Many of the children I work with have early signs of separation anxiety and night terrors, and also have early tantrums. From my experience bipolar in kids can certainly start out this way. As the child gets older the disease may evolve to look differently. That is not to say that your child has bipolar disorder, but most certainly with the family history and what you are describing you need to keep a very close eye on him.

Sources used:
Bipolar Disorders Expert Column Series
Bipolar Disorders and Genetics: Clinical Implications of High Heritability
Posted 09/24/2004 Kiki D. Chang, MD; Kim A. Gallelli, PhD

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