All of us that have teenage children have seen some mood changes, but usually that is just typical and normal teenage behavior. But if those mood swings are excessive and tend to go from bad to worse your child might be suffering from bipolar disorder. Teens with bipolar disorder can go from up to down in a matter of seconds. And their ups and downs are excessive; they tend to move the boundaries of normal teen behavior, so this is one thing to look out for.
The biggest difference between normal teen mood changes and bipolar disorder mood changes is that it will influence child’s life in general, from social and school activities to future job prospects. Kids with bipolar disorder often find school to be very hard for them, and that is not all, many of kids with bipolar disorder try to hurt themselves or commit suicide.
So how do we help out teenagers with bipolar disorder, what is there to be done? First you have to notice it and the symptoms are many, they are divided into two groups, mania and depression:
- Increased energy
- Racing speech and thoughts
- Elevated mood and exaggerated optimism
- Increased physical and mental activity
- Decreased need for sleep
- Poor judgment
- Reckless behavior, like excessive spending, making rash decisions, and erratic driving
- Difficulty concentrating
- Loss of energy or fatigue
- Prolonged sad or irritable mood
- Loss of interest in usual activities
- Sleeping too much or inability to sleep
- Drop in grades and inability to concentrate
- Appetite loss or overeating
- Anger, worry, and anxiety
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Once you are sure of the symptoms and have established that your child has bipolar disorder you need to provide treatment. There are two types of treatment, medication and therapy.
There are several types of medication that can help depending on the case, but be sure not to take any medication that was not prescribed by a doctor directly for your child. But the bottom line is that in most cases even doctors will have to experiment with what type of medication to use. It is not as simple as prescribing a certain medication, some children respond differently to a certain medication. On the other hand some of the cases are so complex that several different types of medication need to be combined in order to work.
You also need to be advised that medication cannot be stopped without doctor’s permission as it is very dangerous. If there are side effects or any other problem related to the medication your child is using you first need to consult the doctor. Never, and I repeat, never stop giving your child medication without doctor’s approval.
Therapy is most used in lighter cases without medication or in heavy cases in addition to medication. It mostly consists of psychotherapy; it is used in the way that will help your child deal with his behavior and mood changes. Mostly managing routines and ways to deal with stress, but this kind of therapy has helped plenty of kids with bipolar disorder and is still the most used and recommended.