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Understanding Bipolar Disorder in Children and Teens

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Learn about what bipolar is and the effect it has on children and teens. Here, you will receive information on signs and symptoms, treatment options, and how to help your child or teen suffering.

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Understanding Bipolar Disorder in Children and Teens

  1. 1. UNDERSTANDING BIPOLAR DISORDER In Children and Teens
  2. 2. What is Bipolar Disorder? • Bipolar disorder is a serious but often untreated brain disorder, formerly known as manic-depressive illness. • Children and teens with bipolar disorder go through mood changes that cannot be explained by events. If they sometimes feel unusually happy or irritable, with an increase in activity and less need for sleep, they may be showing signs of mania. • Sometimes children and teens with bipolar disorder feel very sad and "down," and are much less active than usual. This can be signs of the depression phase.
  3. 3. What Causes Bipolar Disorder? • There are a series of factors, including: • Genes, because the illness runs in families. Children with a parent or sibling with bipolar disorder are more likely have bipolar disorder. • Abnormal brain chemistry. • Anxiety disorders. Children and teens with anxiety disorders are more likely to develop bipolar disorder. • Environmental stress does not cause the disorder, but can bring on an episode.
  4. 4. Signs and Symptoms According to http://www.nimh.nih.gov/, children and teens having a manic episode may: • Feel very happy or act silly in a way that's unusual • Have a very short temper • Talk really fast about a lot of different things • Have trouble sleeping but not feel tired • Have trouble staying focused • Talk and think about sex more often • Do risky things. Children and teens having a depressive episode may: • Feel very sad • Complain about pain a lot, like stomachaches and headaches • Sleep too little or too much • Feel guilty and worthless • Eat too little or too much • Have little energy and no interest in fun activities • Think about death or suicide.
  5. 5. How is Bipolar Disorder Treated? 1. Medication. Different types of medication can help children and teens suffering from Bipolar Disorder. Because people respond to medications in different ways, the type of medication is dependent on the child. It’s not uncommon to need more than one type of medication to manage complex symptoms. 2. Therapy. Different kinds of psychotherapy can help children and teens with Bipolar Disorder. According to psychiatrist Dean Freedlander MD, therapy can help children and teens change behavior and manage routines.
  6. 6. How to Help Your Child or Teen If your child or teen is suffering from Bipolar Disorder, here are ways you can help: • Be patient • Encourage your child to talk, and listen to him or her carefully • Be understanding about mood episodes • Help your child have fun • Help your child understand that treatment can help him or her get better
  7. 7. If You Need Help • If you're unsure where you can get help for your child or teenager, call your family doctor. You can also browse the web for mental health professionals. Hospital doctors can help in the case of an emergency.

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