As a parent, it is typical to have to navigate your child’s emotional ups and downs. Teenage angst is often the norm and is to be expected. But sometimes, significant shifts in your child’s or teen’s mood are a sign that there is more going on. Perhaps you are curious if they have Bipolar Disorder.
If so, this article will explore what Bipolar Disorder is, how it shows up, and how to move forward with treatment and resources.
What Exactly is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar is a mood disorder that affects both adults and children, most commonly showing up in early adulthood. The National Institute of Mental Health states that the key symptoms that these individuals usually experience episodes of Mania. Mania can be explained as a period of intense energy, happiness, or activity. These manic episodes are often compounded by depressive mood periods, where mood and energy levels are extremely low.
While the exact causes are unknown, the NIMH states that “several factors may contribute to the illness,” with genetics playing a significant role. The Stanford Children’s Health backs this claim up, saying, “it does tend to run in families [and] it may be inherited.”
If your child has a relative with the disease, they are at a higher risk of developing it. Higher levels of stress and trauma may trigger initial episodes.
What To Look For:
Signs of a Manic Episode
- Extreme happiness or joy
- Irritable mood
- Talkative, speaking very quickly
- Inflated self-esteem
- Reduced need for sleep
- Inability to focus
- Extreme or excessive impulsive/risky behaviour
- Extreme or excessive sexual preoccupations
Signs of a Depressive Episode
- Feelings of emptiness, sadness, worthlessness, guilt
- Uninterested in many activities
- Low energy
- Reduced or excessive need for sleep
- Inability to focus
There are several diagnoses for Bipolar Disorders, including bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder and cyclothymic disorder. Diagnosis involves understanding your child’s baseline behaviour and comparing it to their behaviour now.
It is essential with children to distinguish what is normal for them, as developmentally, there are normal variations between individuals at this time. If you would like an official diagnosis, this can be done with a physician or psychiatrist. They are also able to rule out other diagnoses.
Teens with Bipolar Disorders are at risk for other issues such as substance abuse, ADHD, anxiety, behavioural problems, and increased suicide risk.
How To Manage Bipolar Disorder
Living with Bipolar Disorder involves learning to navigate strong emotions. The goal is to get to a balanced place where they are neither too low nor too high. Undergoing therapy with a Calgary psychologist will allow your teen to understand better and manage their symptoms, feelings, and relationships. A Calgary psychologist will be able to assess your child to determine their unique needs and identify the best treatment plan and goals for your child.
Family counselling in Calgary may also be useful in this area as psychologists can provide support, tools, and skills for improving emotional regulation and interactions in the home.
Several medication options can help your child better manage the symptoms they are struggling with. Finding the right medication is deeply personal, so working closely with a physician or psychiatrist is critical.
What You Can Do
Unfortunately, Stanford Children’s Health states that there “bipolar disorder has no cure. But over time, your teen’s symptoms will get better. Being supportive and patient can help”. You can assist your child by:
- Educate yourself to understand better what is going on. There are several different sources to explore at the end of the article.
- Partaking in family counselling in Calgary can help not only your child but your family cope with this disorder.
- Listen and talk openly with your child. It is essential to express care and compassion for your child and what they are experiencing.
- Help them understand and track their moods. Starting a mood journal or log can help you both understand what is going on for them over time. This information can also be beneficial to a Calgary psychologist, physician or psychiatrist as they understand your child’s unique situation and concerns.
- Help your child develop good routines. Getting enough sleep, healthy eating, and reducing stress play a significant role in managing symptoms of Bipolar Disorders.
Once identified, treating Bipolar Disorders becomes easier. With the help of mental health professionals, such as the psychologists at Supporting Wellness Psychological & Family Services, your child can learn to manage life and its challenges with the right resources. There are many tools and treatment options available for you and your family.
Check out these links for more information.
- Questions for Communicating with Your Health Care Provider – teenmentalhealth.org
- Bipolar Disorder in Teens – Stanford Children’s Health
- Bipolar Disorder in Children and Teens – National Institute of Mental Health
Book Recommendation: The Bipolar Teen: What you Can Do to Help Your Child and Your Family by David Miklowitz and Elizabeth George
At Supporting Wellness, we strive to provide you with a safe place to speak, share and reflect openly while gaining unbiased insight and perspective from a professional. We understand that workplace conflict can be draining physically and emotionally, and want to help. Our psychologists are passionate about providing you with the support and tools that will allow you to tackle conflict and hard conversations with grace. To set up an appointment, contact us today by phone at (888) 622-8350, or email us at [email protected].