Manic Depression Symptoms in Children

 Mood swings are quite normal to a degree, as sometimes we are simply happy and sometimes our moods can switch to sad, but when it comes to extreme mood swings such as bipolar disorder, life can become difficult. The cases of bipolar disorder, or manic depression as it used to be termed, have increased significantly the past decade, especially among children and teens. 

Just a mere twenty years ago mental health professionals would not be on the lookout for bipolar disorder in children, but today experts assert that children as young as six years old can display manic depression symptom

Characteristics of bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is a disorder that affects the moods and is characterized primarily by various cycles of mania and depression.  Mania is a state in which one is in fast mode; he may have racing thoughts, fast speech, extreme euphoria, abundant energy, and can have trouble relaxing and sleeping.  The depressive cycle is characterized by fatigue, slower speech, lack of energy, significant sadness, loss of appetite, and more. 

It is not simple to diagnose bipolar disorder in children because many of the manic depressive symptoms are similar to the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  It is not unheard of that a child coming in to see a doctor lacking attention and having extra energy to get diagnosed with ADHD inaccurately when in fact, he may be manic depressive.

The cycles

Adults struggling with bipolar disorder can have rather long cycles of depression and mania, but for children the cycles tend to be much shorter.  This means that a child can go from a manic state to a depressive state in a week, whereas it may take a year or more for an adult to make the switch. Though the cycles may vary in time, many of the symptoms of bipolar disorder between adults and children stay the same.

Bipolar treatment for children

If your child is diagnosed with bipolar disorder due to manic depression symptoms, there are things that you can do for your child to help with treatment. It is important to be consistent with your efforts and continue to educate yourself when it comes to bipolar disorder. If you have any questions, feel free to discuss them with your doctor. There are also plenty of helpful websites and free resources to help families learn about manic depression symptoms in children.

Create a routine.  Experts state that children that have a consistent routine at home tend to cope with life changes better than those that don’t.  It will benefit a bipolar child to have a familiar daily routine that includes meal times, getting up, homework, and going to bed.  It might be tempting to just let the child have his or her way, but when children have a set routine, they know what to expect and tend to contend with life issues better than children who do not have such.

Monitor medication closely.  It is very important to administer the child’s medication as directed and consistently.  Purchasing a pill box with the days of the week marked on it will come in handy for this. 

Monitor side effects.  As with most medications, there may be side effects from the medication, so do your best to keep track of them as you notice so that you can let the doctor know.  Common side effects for bipolar medicine may include modifications in blood sugar and weight. 

Participate in family counseling.  Sometimes someone who is struggling with bipolar disorder can cause disruptions in the family, so family counseling may benefit everyone.  A counselor can help each individual do their best at supporting the one with manic depression symptoms and help the family to adjust and handle mood swings.

Bipolar disorder in children does not have to be a struggle. It may feel like a challenge at times, but with the right doctor, medication, counseling, and support system, the whole family can thrive at home and can live a happy life. It is possible for children and teens diagnosed with bipolar to live healthy and happy lives.  If you are concerned about your child having manic depression symptoms, feel free to reach out for help today.

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