Teen Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder is a crippling mental illness that is becoming increasingly common in both adults and adolescents. Teen Bipolar Disorder affects almost 3% of teens between 13 and 18, and diagnosis rates across the developed world show no signs of slowing down.

Once referred to as “manic depression,” Bipolar Disorder is characterized by periods of mania or depressive episodes interspersed with periods of normality. Intensity varies from person to person and can even lead to psychotic states.

The teen years are difficult to navigate due to hormonal changes and social adjustments, but these years can become incredibly volatile for those diagnosed with a mental illness.

Teen Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a crippling mental illness that is becoming increasingly common in both adults and adolescents. Teen bipolar disorder affects almost 3% of teens between 13 and 18, and diagnosis rates across the developed world show no signs of slowing down.

Once referred to as “manic depression,” bipolar disorder is characterized by periods of mania or depressive episodes interspersed with periods of normality. Intensity varies from person to person and can even lead to psychotic states.

The teen years are difficult to navigate due to hormonal changes and social adjustments, but for those diagnosed with a mental illness, these years can become incredibly volatile.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar Disorder is a mental illness identified by severe mood swings from manic episodes, characterized by high energy, inflated self-esteem, and racing thoughts, to depressive episodes characterized by low mood, feelings of worthlessness, and thoughts of suicide.

Some people may only experience a single manic or depressive episode; however, these episodes are recurrent for most people with Bipolar Disorder.

The symptoms of Bipolar Disorder can be highly disruptive and interfere with a person’s ability to carry out everyday tasks. Bipolar Disorder can be a severe and life-threatening illness; however, most teens with Bipolar Disorder can lead healthy and happy lives with the proper treatment and support.

If you are concerned that your teenager may be experiencing symptoms of Bipolar Disorder, it is important to seek professional help. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent more serious problems down the road.

symptoms-of-bipolar

If you are concerned that your teenager may be experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder, it is important to seek professional help. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent more serious problems down the road.

Subtypes of Bipolar Disorder

There are four subtypes of this Disorder: Bipolar 1, Bipolar 2, Cyclothymic Disorder, and other unspecified.

Bipolar 1 Disorder is characterized by manic episodes that last at least seven days or manic symptoms that are so severe that the person needs immediate hospital care. A person with Bipolar 1 Disorder may also have episodes of major depression, hypomania, and mixed episodes.

Bipolar 2 Disorder is characterized by episodes of hypomania and major depression. The person may have a less severe form of mania and hypomania or a milder form of depression called dysthymia.

Cyclothymic Disorder is a milder form of Bipolar Disorder characterized by periods of hypomania and periods of depression that do not meet the criteria for major depression or mania.

Causes of Bipolar Disorder

There can be multiple factoring causes of this illness, including (but not limited to) genes, environment, and psychology. It is unclear what causes the condition, but it is likely a combination of factors.

Genetic factors, such as first-degree relatives of people with type 1 of this mental illness, are seven times more likely to develop this condition.

Environmental factors that seem to play a role in development include stressful life events (such as a death in the family), a history of physical or sexual abuse, and the use of recreational drugs.

Psychological factors that may contribute to development include distorted thoughts about oneself and the world and regulating emotions.

Treatment Options for Teens

There are a variety of treatments available for bipolar disorder in teenagers. The most common treatments include medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes.

Medication

The most common medication used for treatment is mood stabilizers. Mood stabilizers help to control the mood swings associated with bipolar disorder. There are a variety of mood stabilizers available, and each one works differently. Your doctor will work with you to find the medication that works best for your child.

  • Lithium: referred to as the “gold standard” for bipolar treatment, lithium is one of the more common medications used to treat the condition. It works by balancing the neurotransmitters of the brain. Approved for children aged 7 to 17.
  • Prozac (fluoxetine) and Lexapro (escitalopram) are antidepressants used to stabilize and regulate moods. Antidepressants specifically target the depressive stages of bipolar disorder. Both are FDA-approved for teen use, but only fluoxetine is approved for use in children.
  • Atypical Antipsychotics are used to treat the psychosis that can accompany bipolar disorder. They work by balancing serotonin and dopamine levels, allowing the affected person to better differentiate between reality and unreality. Only some atypical antipsychotics are FDA-approved for use in teens under 17 years old.

Regardless of the information you find online, it is always the best course of action to consult a health professional who is familiar with your child’s condition and history before making any decisions.

Medication Side Effects

Please be aware that medications may come with side effects. Be honest with your doctor about possible symptoms; they’re here to make managing illness easier.

Some possible side effects of drugs for bipolar treatment include:

  • Dizziness,
  • Weight gain,
  • Drowsiness,
  • Fatigue and energy problems,
  • Concentration issues,
  • Nausea,
  • Dry mouth,
  • Appetite changes –

– and others. It is important to review any possible side effects with your teen before administering medication. Ensure that they fully understand the drug they are taking and how it could make them feel. 

Therapy

Therapy is another common treatment for Bipolar Disorder. There are a variety of therapies available, and each one is tailored to the individual. Therapy can help control mood swings, manage symptoms, and improve relationships.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that focuses on changing the thoughts and behaviors that contribute to symptoms. CBT can help manage Bipolar Disorder.

Lifestyle Changes

Making healthy lifestyle changes can be an important part of treatment for bipolar disorder. Adolescents may need to make changes to their diet, exercise habits, and sleep schedule. These changes can help stabilize mood swings and reduce symptoms of bipolar disorder.

The Role of Parents

Parents play an important role in their child’s diagnosis. Their observations and interactions with their kids may provide important clues about whether their child has Bipolar disorder.

If you think your child may have Bipolar Disorder, talk to your pediatrician or mental health professional. Early diagnosis and treatment are important to help your child manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

Beyond diagnosis and treatment, it’s important to show your child care and understanding during their challenging time. If it helps, compare their Disorder to a physical illness like diabetes. This may help them empathize with themselves and understand why they may need more medical attention than some of their friends.

When discussing Bipolar Disorder with your diagnosed child, the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance recommends that you keep the following in mind:

  • Validate your child’s feelings. Help them understand that feelings and emotions are a normal human experience and allow them to feel angry, irritable, and sad.
  • Listen closely. For example, if your child says, “I am feeling so frustrated at my constant mood swings,” reply with something akin to, “I’m sorry you’re frustrated. Your mood swings are particularly difficult for you right now, and I’m here to support you in that.”
  • Be direct. While your protective instinct might be to dance around sensitive issues, your child will likely appreciate being asked straightforward questions rather than having to

Conclusion

Bipolar Disorder is a challenging diagnosis to navigate, especially for children and adolescents still developing emotionally. While it is still unclear what causes bipolar Disorder to occur, plenty of research exists on how the condition should be diagnosed and treated.

With the right treatment plan from Hillside Horizon, alongside care and understanding from loved ones, adolescents with Bipolar Disorder can lead a satisfying and fulfilling life.