Until recently, bipolar disorder was thought of as an adult disorder presenting with discrete episodes of mania and depression. Despite continued debate, there is growing consensus that many seriously disturbed children are afflicted with bipolar disorder. However, the mania in children is seldom characterized by euphoric mood as seen in adults. Rather, the most common mood disturbance in manic children is severe irritability with “affective storms” or prolonged and aggressive temper outbursts. The type of irritability observed in these children is severe, persistent and often violent. The outbursts often include threatening or attacking behavior towards family members, other children, adults and teachers. In between outbursts, these children are described as persistently irritable or angry in mood. Aggressive symptoms may be the primary reason for the high rate of psychiatric admission noted in these children.
The course of early onset bipolar disorder tends to be chronic and continuous rather than episodic and acute. These children are also more likely to have co morbid behavior disorders. Children with EOBD have complex presentations, often with difficulty within school, family and their social life.
Is Your Child Bipolar?
If your child exhibits some of the following symptoms you should consult a professional:
- Displays abrupt, rapid mood swings
- Has explosive rage attacks
- Has elated or silly, giddy mood states
- Has sleep difficulties
- Has periods of excessive, rapid speech
- Exhibits inappropriate sexual behavior
- Is easily angered when people set limits
- Is unable to concentrate at school
- Has difficulty organizing tasks
- Defies or refuses to comply with rules
- Has periods of depression and low energy
- Has made suicidal threats or gestures
- Has heard or seen things (hallucinations)