Bipolar disorder is a serious mental health condition that can have an enormous impact on a person’s well-being. Having bipolar disorder can be even more overwhelming for children and adolescent systems, as it is often difficult to diagnose, can lead to unstable emotions, and evolve over time. Managing and understanding childhood bipolar disorder is key to improving a child’s mental health.
What Is Childhood Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that can cause extreme changes in a person’s mood and energy levels. It affects around 2.8 percent of children, adolescents, and teens in the United States. Early identification is critical as it can help identify and manage a child’s behavior.
Symptoms of Childhood Bipolar Disorder
The primary symptom at the core of bipolar disorder is an intense emotional state that lasts for at least one week (it can range from days to months). For most people, their emotional highs (called mania) will feel energized, elated and powerful. On the other end, the lows are deep and often rapid episodes that are marked by extreme sadness and depression.
Other common symptoms include:
- Unstable relationships
- Changes in eating habits
- Mood swings
- Running away from home
- Rapidly changing emotions
- Irritability, reckless behavior, and hostility
- Sleep disturbances
- Excessive talking or lack of speech
Diagnosis of Childhood Bipolar Disorder
A diagnosis of childhood bipolar disorder is usually done through a comprehensive assessment and combination of observation, physical exam, psychological evaluations, patient/parent interviews, and lab work. For accurate results, it is important to involve family and or friends who can provide insight into the patient’s current and past behavior.
Strategies for Managing Childhood Bipolar Disorder
Managing and understanding childhood bipolar disorder is key to helping a child’s mental health. The main strategies include:
- Creative expression: Activities like painting, playing musical instruments, writing, singing, or drawing can help regulate and express emotions.
- Stay organized: Organization and structure can be very helpful in managing challenging mood swings and emotions.
- A healthy lifestyle: A healthy lifestyle that includes enough sleep, self-care, and a balanced diet can be essential in regulating and managing bipolar disorder.
- Family and psychotherapy: Seek support through family and external therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy, social therapy, and other counseling services.
- Medications: When necessary, medications such as mood stabilizers and anti-depressants can be prescribed to help manage and regulate bipolar disorder.
Managing childhood bipolar disorder can be challenging and difficult, but with the right strategies and support, your child can learn how to manage it and lead a healthy and fulfilling life. Understanding and recognizing the signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder in children is key to helping them cope and find the right treatment solutions.
Keywords: childhood bipolar disorder, bipolar disorder, mental health, mania, depression, mood swings, sleep disturbances, organization and structure, medications, cognitive behavioral therapy, social therapy.