Helping Children with Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is marked by extreme changes in mood, behavior, energy level and thinking. Symptoms of children with Bipolar Disorder can be detected even during childhood. Patients benefit from timely intervention and treatment it is always possible to control and find healing from bipolar disorder.

Proper diagnosis for children with Bipolar Disorder

Proper diagnosis is the first and most important step in treating childhood bipolar disorder. Often, the abnormal behavior of children is treated as the usual naughtiness of childhood by the parents and treatment can be significantly delayed. Years often pass without treatment because the first symptoms of the disorder are not recognized. By the time the disorder is finally realized, the child’s behavior will worsen at home, school and other areas and the child will have become will be difficult to handle. The result of this situation can include:

  • Uncontrollable, irritating behavior (leading to the removal from school).
  • Situations leading to admittance in a psychiatric hospital.
  • Admission into the juvenile justice system.
  • Development of antisocial behavior.

It is very important to recognize any abnormal behavior of your child and make an assessment as to whether it is childhood naughtiness or possibly something more significant.

Parents’ role to treat Children with bipolar disorder

If you have doubts about your child’s behavior, you must immediately consult with a professional who is familiar with symptoms and treatment of the early bipolar disorder. This there is no blood test or scanning available to diagnose bipolar disorder so the parents must closely watch the behavior patterns of the child and report them accurately to the doctor.

It is advisable to take daily notes of your child’s behavior, mood changes, unusual events, sleep patterns, and statements. Share these notes with the doctor because once the diagnosed is made, the parents must gather all possible information about this disorder and its effects on the child. Having the entire family involved in the child’s treatment can reduce the frequency, duration, and severity of the disorder.

Choosing the right doctor

Finding the right doctor is very important for disorders which affect the brain. It is always good to consult a child psychiatrist rather than going to just any psychiatric doctor. A child psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has completed 3-4 years in psychiatry plus an additional 2 years in child psychiatry. While they may be great in their field, some unspecialized doctors are not necessarily good at treating children with mood disorders. This is very important and parents must select a doctor who:

  • Has knowledge of mood disorders.
  • Is up to date with the latest research in the field.
  • Welcomes the parents’ findings about the child.
  • Listens well and explains medical matters clearly.
  • Offers to work closely with parents.
  • Maintains good rapport with the child.

Treatment of childhood bipolar disorder

The treatment plan for handling childhood bipolar disorder is comprehensive. Such a plan includes :

  • Medication
  • Symptom monitoring
  • Education about bipolar disorder
  • Counseling sessions (child and family)
  • Nutrition improvement
  • Sleep scheduling
  • Exercise daily

There is no cure for bipolar disorder but treatment can stabilize the mood and allow for management of the unusual behaviors associated with the disorder. With appropriate treatment and support at home and school, children with bipolar disorder achieve a marked reduction in the frequency, severity, and duration of the illness.

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