Bipolar Disorder in Youth
According to Mental Health America, most children will experience changes in their mood as they navigate their adolescent and teenage years but caregivers should be aware of when those feelings and emotions begin to impact the child’s wellbeing and negatively affect their activities of daily living.
Bipolar Disorder is characterized by shifting from periods of extreme highs, referred to as mania, to extreme lows which are considered depressive episodes. These episodes may last weeks, or cycle rapidly depending on the person.
Every person’s experience is unique, so it is important to pay attention to warning signs and seek professional support if you believe there is a problem.
What does Bipolar look like in youth?
Symptoms of mania might include
- Unrealistic highs, feelings of being invincible
- Severe changes in mood or behavior
- Increased risk taking behavior, abusing substances, promiscuous behavior
- Racing thoughts and pressured speech that can be difficult to interrupt
Symptoms of depression might include
- WIthdrawal from once enjoyed activities or social supports
- Frequent or prolonged sadness, crying or thoughts of worthlessness
- Frequent physical complaints (body aches/pains, upset stomach, etc)
- Recurring or frequent thoughts of death, suicide or self harming behavior
How do I respond?
Be patient and encourage your child to talk about what they are experiencing. It may be beneficial to track your child’s mood to determine any patterns or cycles that may be happening.
Get started with our simple Mood Tracker.
Resources for Families
- Mental Health America – https://mhanational.org/bipolar-disorder-children
- National Institute of Mental Health – https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/bipolar-disorder-in-children-and-teens/
- Depression & Bipolar Support Alliance – Education materials https://www.dbsalliance.org/education/educational-materials/
Resources for Educators
- NYSED: Mental Health http://www.nysed.gov/curriculum-instruction/mental-health
- The Student with Bipolar – An Educators Guide (BPChildren) https://www.bpchildren.com/teacher