Very Early Signs of Child Bipolar Disorder

by Crystal Horn
(Independence, Mo)

My daughter has never slept well, is very restless and wakes up often. She is currently 23 months old, and is a very difficult child to raise. I am a single mom which makes it even rougher. She has very long tantrums, sometimes there is nothing that sets her off into a rage (well nothing that I can see).


She is a very good talker but she prefers to whine all day long. She is great at school, but the minute I show up to pick her up the tantrums start. She is in early head-start and has been for 2 months now. When she first started she has MAJOR separation anxiety but is doing much better now. She has seen a psychologist since she was 14 months old and I am not getting anywhere with much help. My daughter’s father and paternal grandmother are both bipolar and he has major anger management issues. Is it possible that she could have started to display signs of bipolar disorder before she was ever a year old? She started the tantrums at 3 months of age; things would set her off at the age of 4-5 months. She can turn the moods off and on like a light switch; my mom compares her to Jekyll and Hyde. I am so stressed out with dealing with her.

Dear Crystal:

My experience with parents of children with bipolar disorder is that they report their children often exhibited signs in early infancy that they were different, and some of those signs are consistent with what you are reporting. However, as with all most other symptoms, there are many alternative explanations for the behaviors you are reporting.


The most significant thing you indicated in your post was that your daughter’s paternal family is genetically loaded for BPD. We know that Bipolar disorder is highly heritable and the other symptoms you are reporting are serious red flags. I would strongly encourage you to take her to a professional who understands pediatric bipolar disorder. It seems you could also benefit from support as raising a child like you are describing is extremely challenging.

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