Saturday, September 8, 2007

Bipolar Disorder in Children

Bipolar disorder is a being diagnosed in children as young as
six years old in recent years. Some doctors think this is a good
assessment of many children while others think the diagnosis is
overdone. While it may be just an intellectual controversy to
some, others who know a child who may have bipolar disorder will
not be amused. It is important therefore to take into account
all the facets of the disorder.

It is a tricky diagnosis to say the least. Bipolar disorder in
children often appears similar to ADHD, or as simply
rambunctious childhood behavior. Young children may cycle fast,
meaning that they go from a depressed state to a manic state and
back, etc. very quickly, often within weeks or even days.

Suicide attempts often happen on the spur of the moment, with
little or no warning. This is different than in most adults
where the depression is often long-lasting and suicide attempts
may be well thought-out. For this reason it is imperative that
children with the disorder be treated successfully.

Bipolar disorder in children often presents in mania. In the
younger children this is often likely to come with
hallucinations, both auditory and visual. It may seem that these
would be difficult to distinguish from a healthy imagination.
Sometimes, in fact, it is. Many times, though, the visions and
voices are more disturbing and threatening than a healthy child
would imagine.

Teens with bipolar disorder are, for the most part, similar in
their symptoms to adults. A major complicating factor with teens
is the use of drugs and alcohol. As with adults, this practice
of trying to use street drugs and alcohol to control mood
swings, is called "self-medicating." It is a dangerous business
and often masks the symptoms of the disorder. Bipolar disorder
in children should always be considered when drugs are being
used by them, if only to rule it out.

Bipolar disorder in children who are older, such as teenagers,
is still different from the adult disorder in that the person
with the disorder is still a minor. This leads to situations
where the older child has an adversarial relationship with
authorities and is therefore hard to convince that treatment is
a good thing.

There are some ways to cut down on the confusion. Speaking with
the child's teachers gives an outside opinion of how the child
is doing day-to-day. Also, this shows how the child fares in a
different setting from the home environment. Bipolar disorder in
children, if it is masquerading as some other form of disorder
or behavior, is more likely to be found out if more people are
alert to its symptoms.

Getting a second opinion is also very important, since so many
doctors disagree on bipolar disorder in children. Once the
second opinion is obtained, the family can make a more informed
decision as to what the problem is and how to proceed. Doctors
may not all agree on bipolar disorder in children, but a second
opinion should help to clarify the situation. The parent or
guardian can listen carefully and determine if the doctor's
explanation sounds accurate. Then, ultimately, it is the
parents' job to make the call. Misdiagnosis and wrong treatment
would be unthinkable, but if bipolar disorder in children is the
correct diagnosis, it is surely better to accept it.

About the author:
To learn more, check out Bipolar
Disabilities Guide


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