Is it Bipolar Disorder, or ADD? Know Difference to Avoid Misdiagnosis Hazards

Though somewhat related, bipolar disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) are two distinct conditions with similar, but no exact, symptoms. In fact since most children with bipolar disorder can often be confused for having ADD, up until recently children with bipolar disorder were often misdiagnosed as ADD causing them to receive the improper treatment.

Attention Deficit Disorder is actually a combination of conditions, the most prominent being a learning disability that can be caused by any number of factors. Bipolar disorder is a specific neurological disease that has nothing to do with environment, parenting, or other lifestyle factors. For years medical professionals often had trouble distinguishing bipolar disorder from ADD, so how can you as a parent be expected to? Due to the difficulties of a proper diagnosis one should only be made though an evaluation by a qualified professional.

There are some helpful signs that can assist you if you suspect that the problem may be more serious than ADD, and may actually be bipolar disorder.

A Bipolar Child will exhibit:

Elated behaviors:

  • Uncontrollable or inappropriate burst of laughter
  • Seeming to be deliriously happy for no apparent reason
  • Talk incessantly, and jump rapid fire from one topic to another
  • Decrease in the need for sleep is often seen in bipolar illness, sometimes sleeping as little as 4-6 hours with no signs of tiredness the next day

Grandiose behaviors:

  • Feeling that they are smarter than you or their teachers
  • Believing that they have “super powers”

These patterns are typical of bipolar disorder, but rarely occur in children only suffering from typical ADD. If you suspect that your child may be bipolar it is important to have him or her properly evaluated by specialist so that ADD is ruled out. Some of the medications prescribed for ADD may actually worsen the symptoms of bipolar disorder often resulting in permanent damages and sometimes death.

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