Bipolar disorder is a complex mental health condition that affects millions of adults each year. In many people, the complications of bipolar disorder are acquired from a familial connection in which a parent most likely suffered from the mental health complication as well. If you are an adult with bipolar disorder, and if you are concerned about your child’s potential risk for developing bipolar disorder, it is important to become familiar with treatment and medications that may help to delay onset.
In many children who are pre-disposed to have bipolar disorder as adults, there are typically early warning signs and the onset of mental health complications in childhood. For most of these children, the complications of mental health will manifest, first, as a depressive disorder. Understanding this may be the beginning of a lifelong battle with mental health, parents are often skeptical to begin medication therapy at such a young age.
For children who are pre-disposed for bipolar disorder, and potentially develop the mental health complication, there may be a benefit to starting anti-depressants for depression at a young age. In addition, because children with ADHD typically develop bipolar disorder as adults, the use of stimulants at a young age may also be beneficial. While parents are hesitant, there are many physicians who find the earlier treatment for these mental health conditions is started, the longer the delay in bipolar onset.
To help your child effectively manage lifelong complications with bipolar disorder, or simply ADHD, it is important to obtain mental health evaluation and treatment early in life. By establishing a relationship with a good pediatric psychiatrist, you can lay the foundation for encouraging your child to take ownership of their mental health risks while also avoiding more complex bipolar complications early in adulthood.
Treating bipolar disorder is not a one-step process – it will take many steps over the course of one’s life. Because there is certainly a familial link to the development of bipolar disorder, children who are showing signs of depression or ADHD at a very young age should be evaluated and treated for their symptoms when they begin. In doing so, you are potentially delaying the onset of bipolar in your child and, ultimately, this may improve overall quality of life.
Sources: Brown University Child & Adolescent Behavior Letter, May 2010, Vol. 26, p. 3.