It used to be common knowledge among health professionals that bipolar disorder only occurred in adults. And bipolar disorder in children is rare – but it happens. But, now, realizing that it can occur in children as well, experts have begun to examine and diagnose more children with bipolar each year.
When this illness occurs in children, it is known as early-onset bipolar disorder. Primarily this is done to distinguish it from the more common disorder diagnosed in adults. As far as symptoms in kids, the most common ones are extreme mood shifts from giddiness to depression and back again. In hyperactive children, it can be almost impossible for a parent to tell normal child behavior from bipolar depression behavior. That’s why when such symptoms begin to express themselves, it is best to seek the help of a child behavioral expert.
If an adult has bipolar disorder, the illness can be difficult for them to handle. So you can imagine how much more difficult it is for a child with early-onset bipolar disorder to handle the illness on his own. Because of his constantly shifting mood swings, he will probably have trouble in school. And his friendship with kids will, most likely, be tenuous as they slowly began to shy away from him because of his erratic behavior. These rejections, in turn, can make him shy away from even attempting to form new relationships with kids his own age.
Another danger to kids with early-onset bipolar disorder is that when they cycle into their depressive phase, they potentially become dangerous to themselves because of the suicidal thoughts that frequently accompany depression. Depression is a serious illness and often undetected until its too late – especially in children. In children, depression often is expressed through moodiness or aggressive behavior. You may think that a child is simply being difficult or moody for insignificant events happening in his life. But, often, in his mind, these seemingly insignificant events become magnified and take on mammoth proportions. Eventually, if unchecked, the child may began to think that there is no way out except for suicide.
At what age should you begin to look for symptoms? Unfortunately, there really is no lower age limit that it is confined to. Typically, it will first begin to affect people in they late teen years. But, in recent years, health professionals have begun to diagnose more and more children under the age of ten.