Many children experience mood swings or “Ups” and “Downs” in life, but the shifts a child who is Bipolar exhibits, are much more powerful. The mood swings are more extreme and are accompanied by changes in sleep, energy level, and the ability to think clearly. Bipolar symptoms are so strong, they can make it hard for a child to do well in school or get along with friends and family members. The illness can also be dangerous. Some young people with Bipolar disorder try to hurt themselves or attempt suicide. Symptoms of Bipolar disorder fall into two categories, mania and Depression.
Mania which can last up to three months if untreated, may include symptoms such as elevated levels energy, reduced need for rest, and severe loss of fully understanding reality.
Depression can include symptoms such as reduced energy, lower motivation than what the child is used to, and little interest in daily activities. Depression could come before or after a manic, hypomanic, or normal period of mood episodes can last days or months at a time and may also be associated with suicidal thoughts.
Bipolar disorder can be classified into: Bipolar I Disorder, Bipolar II Disorder, Cyclothymic Disorder, Rapid Cycling and Mixed Episode.
Bipolar I Disorder: Bipolar I Disorder is given when a child has at least one episode of mania. While a person with Bipolar I might only experience manic episodes, it often includes episodes of Depression and hypomania. Hypomania includes the same symptoms of mania but can be shorter in duration and less severe. They do not include symptoms of psychosis or require hospitalization.
Bipolar II Disorder: Bipolar II Disorder includes at least one major depressive episode and at least one hypomanic episode. Children with Bipolar II also tend to have longer periods of Depression than people with Bipolar I.
Cyclothymic Disorder: Sometimes called Cyclothymia, this disorder includes episodes of hypomania and depressive symptoms that occur on a fairly regular basis. While changes in mood are not as extreme as those associated with Bipolar I and Bipolar II Disorders, it can still cause serious problems in a child’s life and may later progress to symptoms of mania, hypomania, and Depression.
Rapid Cycling: Rapid cycling is a term used when a child experiences four or more episodes of hypomania, mania, or Depression within a 12-month time period.
Mixed Episode: A mixed episode occurs when a child is experiencing symptoms of both Depression and mania or hypomania at the same time. Children with Bipolar disorders are at an increased risk for suicide, and this risk is thought to be especially high during mixed episodes.
IDCC wants you to know that you and your child are not alone. We help your children do the things they enjoy by developing and teaching them to follow a treatment plan, dramatically reducing many of the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder. Children with various mental health conditions can and do pursue higher education, succeed in their careers, make friends and have stable relationships. Clinicians are trained in destigmatizing the therapy process and to listen to children and their families, through which they are made aware of the cultures of the clients they treat. This ensures that children and their families feel as comfortable with the therapy process as possible
Proper treatment helps most children living with Bipolar Disorder control their mood swings and other symptoms. Because Bipolar disorder is a chronic illness, treatment must be ongoing. If left untreated, the symptoms of Bipolar disorder can get worse. Thus, diagnosing it early and beginning treatment as soon as possible is very important. Treating Bipolar Disorder may include medication, psychotherapy, education, self-management strategies and external supports such as family, friends and support groups.
There is no single approach to treating Bipolar disorder usually there are two or three therapies going on at the same time as well as medication.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps change the negative thinking and behavior associated with Depression. The goal of this therapy is to help your child recognize negative thoughts and to teach coping strategies.
Family-Focused Therapy helps children with Bipolar Disorder learn about the illness and carry out a treatment plan.
Psychotherapy focused on self-care and stress regulation, helps children improve their self-care, recognize patterns of the onset of the symptoms and manage stress.