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Living with And Treating Bipolar Children
It's only been in recent years that the psychiatric profession has even recognized that there could be bipolar children. The accepted wisdom was always that bipolar disorder, or manic depression, only developed in adults. This was despite evidence from early researchers that some adult symptoms had in fact emerged before they were ten years old. But the result of this assumption was that manic depression treatment methods were always geared explicitly toward adults. It wasn't easy to find any sort of bipolar information about either symptoms or treatment for manic depression in children.
Things have gotten better to some degree; certainly the current treatments have greatly improved the situation. But another reason why it's hard to treat bipolar disorder is that the symptoms tend to overlap with those of other disorders. For example, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may resemble bipolar disorder in its manic phase. Bipolar children with those symptoms are often diagnosed only because they are more aggressive, with more behavioral problems, than if they only had ADHD. With such overlapping of symptoms, what this means is that diagnosing the problem and finding the right medical treatments is very difficult.
Anxiety disorders can also be an indicator that doctors should watch for manic depression as well, since children with these disorders are more likely also to develop bipolar disorder. Children with bipolar disorder may often have had treatment already for full-blown depressive episodes, which served as precursors for the later illness. Even irritability and hypersensitivity might be warning signs, if they last for days at a time.
Diagnosis is controversial, though, because children with bipolar disorder are much more likely to be diagnosed in the United States than in other parts of the world. Interpretations vary on whether this is because there is simply over diagnosis in the U.S., or whether US doctors are simply recognizing a problem that really exists. Bipolar info and interpretation of symptoms varies considerably from country to country.
What will also vary between countries as a result will be the treatments for manic depression. But it's important to establish the accuracy of the diagnosis, because the disorder appears to be much more intense for bipolar children than for adults. Using antipsychotic drug products unnecessarily could lead to the risk of liver damage, diabetes and heart problems for the children. Yet if they aren't used when needed, then there are other high risks, such as psychosis, cognitive impairment or even suicide. Only if the correct diagnosis is made can the children be helped and the very best treatments be chosen.
Related topics about bipolar children
Manic Depressive Disorder
The illness known as manic depressive disorder is more a collection of similar and related illnesses, mostly characterized by swings between greatly elevated moods (the "manic" side) and severely depressed ones. Because the manifestations of the disorder can vary a lot (for example, rapid cycling between moods versus slower), it's very challenging to find the best and most effective treatments. One of the best ways to start working on treatment is probably to find a depression treatment center and a therapist who is very knowledgeable about the illness.
Psychiatric diagnosis in the past has not always included a dissociative disorder, such as dissociative identity disorder (DID), depersonalization disorder, dissociative amnesia or dissociative fugue, yet this constellation of illnesses has been reconsidered in recent years. Part of the confusion surrounding these disorders is that they often manifest symptoms associated with other illnesses, such as depression, post traumatic stress syndrome, or eating disorders. Offering treatments for those problems doesn't generally result in improvements for those with dissociative disorders because the actual underlying disorder isn't addressed.
When someone is depressed, they may be not have the will or the energy to hunt for a depression treatment on their own, even with the abundance of available resources. This very abundance might simply be overwhelming. Fortunately, when it comes to medical treatments, they will undoubtedly have the help of their doctor.