Adolescent Bipolar Disorder

Adolescent bipolar disorder is difficult to diagnose. Are the wildly fluctuating mood changes due simply to unusual hormonal changes or are they truly symptoms of bipolar disorder?

For a long time it was difficult to get medical professionals to even believe in adolescent bipolar disorder. Many teenagers have been misdiagnosed as having attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder, major depressive disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and others. It's only since the the early 1990s that adolescent bipolar disorder has become more recognized as a true illness.

Bipolar and mood disorder in teens

In recent years, bipolar disorder has been diagnosed in babies, children, and teens alike.  And the occurrences of diagnosed bipolar disorder in adolescents, far from decreasing, is increasing every year.  

As a parent, it can be difficult to see your teenager go through bipolar disorder during their adolescent years.  Family support is key in helping them cope—just knowing the symptoms, prognosis, and potential medications can be immensely helpful in helping an adolescent make sense of bipolar disorder.

Unlike the distinct symptoms of bipolar disorder in children, the symptoms of bipolar disorder in adolescents strongly resemble those of adults with the condition.  There are two types of bipolar disorder that a teen might experience: Bipolar I and Bipolar II.

Bipolar I causes an adolescent to alternate between episodes of intense mania and depression.  The symptoms of Bipolar I include: decreased need for sleep, poor judgement, grandiose delusions, elevated mood, and hallucinations (in severe cases).

Also, symptoms can include involvement in risky activities which the teen finds pleasurable, racing speech, increased mental and physical activity, agitation and irritability, change in appetite, thoughts of death and suicide, sadness and crying spells, and low energy.  It is common for the adolescent to seem relatively healthy in between the episodes.

In adolescents, Bipolar II describes the cycle of recurrent depression with episodes of hypomania in between.  Periods of hypomania are known to be times of great creativity for people who suffer from bipolar disorder.  The symptoms of depression are similar to those in Bipolar I.

It is most common for symptoms of adult bipolar disorder to begin making themselves known in the late teenage years.  Unfortunately, adolescents who experience an early onset of symptoms usually experience a much more severe form of bipolar disorder, taking a much longer time to recover.

A common risk associated with bipolar disorder that is even more critical when referring to bipolar disorder in adolescents is suicide.  Any talks of death or not wanting to be alive should be taken extremely seriously.

Unfortunately, scientists and doctors have not yet determined what the best method of treatment is for adolescents with bipolar disorder.  Most are waiting to determine which treatment method is best for adults before making a recommendation for teens.  However, there are drugs out there that can help adolescents with bipolar disorder to live a fairly normal life. After all, isn't that what any teenager wants?  

Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder typically develops in late adolescence or early adulthood. Bipolar disorder is a serious long-term illness that must be carefully managed throughout one's life.

Bipolar 1 Disorder
Bipolar 1 disorder is characterized by massive mood swings and can affect the very young and the very old. Unfortunately it is often misdiagnosed.

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