Bipolar Disorder In Teens


By: AACAP

Teenagers with Bipolar Disorder may have an ongoing combination of extremely high (manic) and low (depressed) moods. Highs may alternate with lows, or the person may feel both extremes at the same time.

Bipolar Disorder usually starts in adult life. Although less common, it does occur in teenagers and even rarely in young children. This illness can affect anyone. However, if one or both parents have Bipolar Disorder, the chances are greater that their children will develop the disorder. Family history of drug or alcohol abuse also may be associated with Bipolar Disorder in teens.

Bipolar Disorder may begin either with manic or depressive symptoms.
The manic symptoms include:

The depressive symptoms include:

Some of these signs are similar to those that occur in teenagers with other problems such as drug abuse, delinquency, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or even schizophrenia. The diagnosis can only be made with careful observation over an extended period of time. A thorough evaluation by a child and adolescent psychiatrist can be helpful in identifying the problems and starting specific treatment.

Teenagers with Bipolar Disorder can be effectively treated. Treatment for Bipolar Disorder usually includes education of the patient and the family about the illness, mood stabilizing medications such as lithium and valproic acid, and psychotherapy. Mood stabilizing medications often reduce the number and severity of manic episodes, and also help to prevent depression. Psychotherapy helps the teenager understand himself or herself, adapt to stresses, rebuild self-esteem and improve relationships.

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