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Bipolar Disorder In Children And Adolescents

Bipolar Disorder In Children And Adolescents

Bipolar disorder can be diagnosed among children and teens, even though it is more regularly mentioned as it relates to adults. The symptoms in adults are quite similar to those in children, causing mood swings ranging between hyperactivity, mania and even a series of depression. 

As we discuss bipolar disorder in children and teens, the areas relating to symptoms, risk factors, diagnosis and issues surrounding the disorder will be highlighted. 

What is Bipolar Disorder in Children and Teens?

Bipolar Disorder is referred to as a mental disorder that causes noticeable and extreme alteration in behavior and mood that can hardly go unnoticed.  Bipolar disorder is categorized by manic episodes (very happy, energetic, and upbeat than regular) and depressive episodes (extreme levels of sadness or feeling down more than regular). 


The DSM-5 is published by the American Psychiatric Association, and it serves a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The DSM-5 is specifically used to guide mental health professionals.  Bipolar Disorder is represented in the DSM-5 within a category that has three different conditions Bipolar I-II and cyclothymic disorder; all in an independent chapter.

Causes of Bipolar Disorder

Like many other disorders the exact cause of bipolar is not known. However, there are several contributory factors as it relates to bipolar depression including: 

  • Genetic links
  • Trauma and Stressful Events (in these occurrences it acts as a trigger and can increase the possible chances of the development of bipolar for someone who has a genetic predisposition
  • Neurological factors

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Common symptoms among children and teens range from intense emotions, sleep habit fluctuations, changes in activity levels, behaviors, and thoughts. 

The manic episode for children and teens come with intense joy for extended periods, short temper, irritable, talking fast about varying things, sleep difficulties, inability to stay focused, and an increase interest in risky activities.

On the other hand, the depressive episodes are characterized by frequent and lengthy episodes of sadness, increase anger, frequent stomach and head aches, inability to concentrate, feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, mentions death or has thoughts of suicide, unable to communicate and maintain relationships and consuming too much or too little food. 

How is Bipolar Disorder in Children and Teens Diagnosed? 

During an assessment session directed by a mental health practitioner (generally a mental health counselor, psychiatrist or psychologist) a series of questions are asked as it relates to your child or teens mood, energy, and sleeping habits and behavior and length of time they have experienced these symptoms 

Issues Existing with Bipolar Disorder

There are other issues that potentially exist with the bipolar disorder, including substance abuse (alcohol and drugs), self-harming behaviors, anxiety, and ADHD.


When treating bipolar disorder in children and teenagers it should include the education of the client and their family about the disorder being addressed with the prescription of mood stabilizing mediations by a psychiatrist, as well as ongoing psychotherapy. This would mean that the effective treating of bipolar disorder amongst children and youth would likely include both a psychiatrist and a mental health counselor. 

Final Thoughts

It’s important for parents to pay keen attention to their child or teens mood changes and behaviors, so they are able to spot critical signs related to mental health instability as soon as possible, and help them get the treatment they need.