A bipolar disorder or manic depression is a severe illness but can be treated. It’s a brain disorder characterised by extreme swings of energy, mood, behaviour, and thinking. The symptoms are present in early childhood or even during infancy. It can also suddenly emerge in adulthood or adolescence. But today, diagnosis of bipolar disorder in childhood is often made. It is because doctors can identify and treat young children with bipolar disorder easier now.
Early prevention and treatment provide greater chances of getting well, achieve stability, and enjoy life as these children grow up. Proper treatments reduce any adverse effects not only in the life of affected children but in their family as well.
The families of children and adolescents with bipolar disorder can become desperate for support and information. Learning about bipolar disorder is the first step for finding the right treatment. The occurrence of this condition in children is not yet known, since it lacks epidemiological studies. But bipolar disorder can affect almost 1% to 2% of adults all over the world. Diagnosing symptoms in children can prevent its long-term effects.
Children that are diagnosed with bipolar disorder in the U.S. have ADHD (attention-deficit with hyperactivity disorder). The depression in teens and children is typically relapsing and chronic. Several studies reveal that 3.4 million significant proportions of children and young adults with depression is actually experiencing the early symptoms of a bipolar disorder however the manic phase is never yet experienced.
Marked changes of a bipolar disorder in terms of energy and moods are apparent in children. Persistent condition of extreme agitation or elation accompanied by high levels of energy is called mania while persistent condition of extreme irritability or sadness accompanied by low levels of energy is called depression.
This illness afflicting children may appear to be very different compared to adults. Generally, children have continuous, ongoing mood disturbances with combined symptoms of depression and mania. This severe and rapid cycling among moods can produce chronic irritability. Sometimes, state of wellness is manifested between episodes.
Parents revealed that their children that have bipolar disorder display symptoms such as irritable or expansive mood, lack of enthusiasm in play, extreme sadness, rapid mood swings that can last for several hours and even in days, rages that is lengthy, explosive, and destructive, separation anxiety, defies authority, hyperactivity, distractibility, agitation, night terrors, bed wetting, sleeping too little or too much, frequent and strong cravings for sweets and carbohydrates, excessively involve with multiple activities and projects, impaired judgment, racing thoughts, impulsivity, pressure on talking too much, display behaviours of a dare-devil, precocious or inappropriate sexual behaviour, hallucinations and delusions, and grandiose belief or too much self confidence defying laws or logic.
Bipolar disorder symptoms may emerge earlier. The manifestations can even be diagnosed in infants. More often, mothers have reported that their children who are diagnosed later with a bipolar disorder have difficulty in sleeping and settle erratically. These children extraordinarily seemed clingy, and often had seizure-like, uncontrollable rages or tantrums that are sometimes not appropriate for a certain event. These rages are often triggered with the “no” word.
There are other factors that may triggers symptoms in teens. A traumatic event or loss can trigger the first episodes of mania or depression. Later episodes sometimes independently occur when stressed out. Puberty is another risk factor triggering the illness especially during menstrual cycle in girls. Once the disorder begins, the recurrence of episodes is possible in most untreated cases. Some studies show that a lag of ten years after the first episodes is possible. It is advisable that parents let their teens undergo an evaluation if more than four symptoms persist.
In addition, teens with bipolar disorder that is left untreated can lead to drugs and alcohol abuse. Some adolescents who display a normal behaviour until puberty but experiences sudden onsets are more vulnerable to alcohol or drug addiction. Any child or teen that abuses such substances must be properly assessed. There are instances that the illness is highly genetic but environmental factors influences a lot if it will really occur.
There are studies conducted to further explore the characteristics of children with bipolar disorder. The results are promising thus the safety and effectiveness of treatments for adults are also appropriate for children.