How do I know whether my child is a Bipolar Teen?

Adolescence has been described as a raging storm of emotions, sometimes impossible to predict. It can be quite difficult to distinguish a bipolar teen from the typical teenager experiencing the “normal” ups and downs of adolescence. In fact, up until recently even medical science did not fully recognize that bipolar disorder does occur in children and teens.

Today we know that the symptoms of teen can actually be caused by a mental condition rather than just irrational or irresponsible behavior. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, up to one-third of the 3.4 million children and adolescents with depression in the United States may actually be experiencing the early onset of bipolar disorder. So how do you recognize the signs and symptoms of a bipolar teen distinguishing them from typical teen misbehavior? While it is now generally understood that the disorder does occur in children and teens it can manifest quite differently then it does in adults. For example, when in the “manic” phase, children and adolescents, are more likely to be irritable and prone to destructive outbursts than to be elated or euphoric. When depressed, teens and especially young children my exhibit more physical symptoms then their adult counterparts, there may be complaints of headaches, stomachaches, and tiredness. A bipolar teen may be more prone to use alcohol or illicit drugs then an adult with the disease. Probably the most important thing you can do for a bipolar teen or a suspected bipolar teen is encouraging them to accept assistance in dealing with their symptoms.

For people suffering from mood swings, especially young people, it can be difficult for them to recognize the symptoms themselves. Listen to your teen’s teachers or friends; they are often the first ones to recognize the changes in behavior that could be indicative of a bipolar teen. Once you have collected your thoughts and think their may be a need for further assistance go to your local Mental Health Clinic for a full evaluation.

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