Bipolar Disorder In Children And Teens

Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder and is an illness of the brain, which produces dramatic changes in a person’s mood and behaviour. Children with the condition have episodes of mania and depression.


Due to the complexities of the condition, it is far easier to determine if an adult has the condition, however due to the way in which children and teens typically behave, it is harder to diagnose the condition in children and teens but the condition has been known to appear in children as young as 6. Many experts believe that the actual condition is rare amongst children and is over diagnosed mistakenly, so it is hard to see how common the disease is.

The problems with diagnosing children with Bipolar Disorder, is the fact that many other mental conditions overlap with Bipolar Disorder, and they can mistakenly be misdiagnosed. Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD) has also been diagnosed in children aged 6-18, who have a few symptoms that match Bipolar, but do not meet the full conventional definition.

Likewise attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has many overlapping symptoms to Bipolar Disorder, which further compounds the diagnosis for the disease in children and teens, since the medication for ADHD, can trigger mania in children with Bipolar, so it has to be very carefully examined. Also many normal childhood behaviours can be misdiagnosed as Bipolar Disorder.


The effects of Bipolar Disorder vary greatly between young children and adults. Children with bipolar have episodes of mania, like adults, and this includes period where an individual’s mood is elevated greatly or irritated, along with an increase in energy. During a period of mania, individuals experience symptoms such as unrealistic high in self-esteem, decreased need for sleep, increase in talking and are more likely to be distracted.

However, children are more likely to be irritable than adults during a mania episode, and be more likely to see and hear things that do not exist. There may also be physical effects that children suffer and adults do not, such as feeling pains and aches during depressive episodes. Another difference between Bipolar Disorder in adults and children is that cycles very quickly in children, and sometimes manic episodes can happen within days in children, whereas in adults it usually occurs after weeks and months.

Bipolar disorder has different effects and symptoms in young children and teens than in adults, and is also harder to diagnose, due to the complexity of the symptoms overlapping with other conditions, and children’s normal behaviour.