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Kathy Marshack News

Could My Teenager be Bipolar?

Thursday, January 19, 2012


More than 10 million people in the US have bipolar disorder. It is equally common in men and women and the onset of the condition typically occurs in the early 20s. However, the first symptoms can also appear in early childhood or during the teen years.

An early diagnosis is critical because children with this disorder are more likely to have other problems including alcohol and drug abuse, trouble in school, running away from home, fighting, and even suicide. Treating the disorder as early as possible can help your child cope with their symptoms and avoid these problems.

During a time of mania, teenagers may throw violent temper tantrums, seem extremely happy, not sleep much and talk very fast. During a time of depression, teens may say they feel empty, sad, bored, complain of headaches or stomachaches, spend time alone and feel easily rejected. If you or your spouse has bipolar disorder you should especially be aware of symptoms in your children. Studies at Stanford University studied the genetic connection of bipolar disorder and found that children with one biological parent with bipolar disorder have an increased likelihood of getting bipolar disorder.

The trouble is bipolar disorder can be hard to diagnose in children and teens. The symptoms can look a lot like the symptoms of other problems like ADHD, substance abuse and even the highs and lows characteristic of adolescence. Which is why if you suspect your child or teen may have bipolar disorder, you should speak with your doctor right away about getting an accurate diagnosis.

If your child is diagnosed with bipolar disorder in addition to medication, you should find a trained therapist who works with children and can help your child accept the diagnosis, get educated about bipolar moods, identify warning signs, and learn strategies to manage stress. And since bipolar disorder extends beyond the patient and affects the entire family, families can definitely benefit from working with a therapist to learn how to recognize an impending manic or depressive episode and how to best manage them.

If you would like help in receiving an accurate diagnosis and/or treatment for your bipolar teenager and live in Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington contact my office for an appointment.


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