What Is Bipolar Disorder?
According to the National Institute Of Mental Health (NIMH) Bipolar Disorder is a serious mental illness that can effect the brain. While less diagnosed, Bipolar Disorder in children can have as much impact as adults with Bipolar Disorder. In the past Bipolar Disorder was known as manic-depression. The term manic-depression is less used to day. In basic terms a Bipolar person experiences cycles of unusually intense emotional states. These emotional states are typically seen as periods of either intense high or low emotions. These states of mind and emotion are distinctive.
From time to time we all may feel depression. For individuals with Bipolar Disorder, the depressive phase tends to be extreme. This depression if often incapacitating. This may lead to prolonged or frequent absences from work, school, or other important responsibilities. Bipolar depression may impact personal hygiene and physical wellness. Bipolar Disorder in children has been linked to poor school attendance, behavioral problems, and academic failure.
As we can see the depressive phase can have significant impact. Bipolar mania may be just as troublesome. Bipolar mania is characterized by periods of extreme energy, excessive and fragmented speech, and often wild or intense beliefs. For example a person in a state of intense Bipolar mania may think that they are somehow superhuman in aspects of their lives. For some this manifests as a completely delusional state of mind. At this level Bipolar Disorder can have a significant impact on both the Bipolar person and those around them. Other symptoms of Bipolar mania can include; Extreme happiness or silliness, rapid speech, trouble falling asleep, loss of focus, risky behaviors, sexual extremes.
Bipolar Disorder should be diagnosed by an experienced physician. Bipolar Disorder in children can often be a complicated diagnosis. Both children and teenagers can show signs of Bipolar Disorder that are actually symptoms of ADHD or other serious medical conditions. This makes it hard to diagnose children with this disease.
There are generally three types of Bipolar Disorder that are diagnosed. These are; Bipolar type I, type II, and Bipolar effective. Bipolar I & II are generally determined by the speed that the cycles of the depression and mania.
Bipolar Disorder Associated With Other Medical Conditions.
It is likely that persons with Bipolar Disorder may experience other related medical conditions. Doctors refer to these other conditions as being, “co-morbid”. These co-morbid aspects may show up as; substance abuse, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Anxiety disorders, Separation Disorder and others. Sometimes the Bipolar Disorder co-morbidity may be due to side effects of the medications that are given to treat the disease. It is quite common to find a Bipolar patient is over-weight, has elevated blood sugars which may lead to diabetes, or in the case of medicines like Lithium it may be toxic in high doses. In addition to these conditions bipolar medications my cause a condition known as, “Tardive Dyskinesia”. Tardive Dyskinesia is a condition that may be permanent. People with Tardive Dyskinesia have problems with repeated movements of the tongue, face, or other movement issues.
How Does Bipolar Disorder In Children Different From Bipolar Adults?
Currently the treatment of Bipolar Disorder in children may be less effective then treatment of adults. Often children experience more severe behavior problems and symptoms. Children are more likely to suffer from continual symptoms. This can significantly impact the ability for a Bipolar child to see meaningful recovery. It is important to look at a wide range of support for your child. Since Bipolar Disorder is a life-long disease it is important that you work with your child’s teachers, doctors and therapists in order to help your child break the cycles of suffering. Good management of Bipolar Disorder must help to mitigate the impact of this illness in every aspect of their lives. While it is important to teach your child good life skills, Bipolar Disorder in children requires that we work with the child to build long lasting and meaningful support systems. For example a child may have a difficult time performing various tasks in life. This may lead to a breakdown in the ability of a child to deal with the basic life responsibilities. Although it may be hard for a child to do certain things on their own, it is possible to get everything they need taken care of in a responsible manner. Responsible behavior may be less about what a person can do as compare with what a person can get done. It is important to get an inventory of the life skills that a child possesses. From there a plan must be developed to either improve the life skills that a child has or to develop solutions for getting these needs taken care of.
Bipolar Disease in children has been shown to impact their ability to participate in education. It is reasonable to understand that children with Bipolar Disorder may not have sufficient attention to successfully complete assignments or retain the information that they receive. It is very important to build a relationship with the educators that work with your child.
Over time it is possible for children to realize meaningful recovery. When you work with doctors, therapists, and other professionals you will find medications and techniques that work for your child’s specific needs. It is important to find a path for your child that directly effects your child’s illness. Each person has different experiences with Bipolar Disorder. Every path to recovery is specific to the person with disease. It is important to treat the person behind the disease. When you develop the person you have a good chance at mitigating the impact of their mental illness.
How can I help My Bipolar Child?
It can be very hard to deal with the ramifications of Bipolar children. It is important to educate your self and to find support for yourself. The stress that is induced in you must be accounted for. You can find support for yourself from organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). NAMI offers education about mental illness, support for families and peer support. The United States government has several organizations that deal with mental health. These organizations like the fore mentioned National Institute Of Mental Health (NIMH) and the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offer great information and resources on Bipolar Disorder. Another good resource for dealing with Bipolar Disorder is the Depression & Bipolar Support Alliance.
It is important that you be patient with your child. Please encourage your child to talk about their problems. Be open and listen. Often a Bipolar person will feel isolated and alone. Open support for your child will help them to feel that they are not alone and understood. Help your child to educate themselves about their disease. Hold on to the belief that Bipolar Disorder in children is something that they can recover from. Your children can lead happy and productive lives. Work together closely and you will see lasting change for the better.
The link between sleep and Bipolar Disorder is becoming more and more clear. A regular and consistent sleep schedule will help your child to deal better with their illness and can have a big impact on the cycles of Bipolar Disorder.
Threats Of Suicide
It is important that your child receive immediate medical support if they talk about or demonstrate intentions to commit suicide. Every threat or indication must be taken seriously. Do not write off these indications as a need for attention. This could easily lead to the loss of your child. Sometimes these conditions exist because of reactions with medications. This is why it is important to address these issues with a competent medical professional. Another good resource is the toll-free suicide helpline 800-273-Talk (8255) this is run by the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
With your help and encouragement the Bipolar Disorder in children is treatable and manageable. With the right tools and resources you can succeed in helping to child with this often troublesome disease.