MANAGING TEEN BIPOLAR DISORDER
Bipolar Disorder is one of the most widely misunderstood teen mental health conditions characterized by extreme shifts in mood and energy levels. As a parent, you may think your teen is experiencing “normal” mood changes as they grow up. Although, experiencing constant and intense mood swings caused by bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive disorder, is very different from normal teenage moodiness. Educating yourself about the disorder and current bipolar treatment options is crucial in order to cope with your teen’s condition.
Polaris provides a loving, safe environment to help manage all types of bipolar disorders. With support from experienced professionals, your teen will receive specialized care to ensure long-term impact. As an experienced adolescent treatment center, we understand bipolar diagnoses come with good and bad news. The bad news is that this disorder is almost always a lifetime condition. Although, with the help from experienced treatment specialists, bipolar disorders can be managed. Teens can go on to live happy, productive lives.
As an adolescent mental health condition, teen bipolar differs from adults. For example, the frequency and severity of their mood swings may be more noticeable. And, as a result, more care and attention must be given to them.
KNOW THE SYMPTOMS
Often, parents confuse the symptoms of bipolar disorder with other causes. Such as substance abuse or an unrelated anxiety disorder. The most common symptoms are apparent as “episodes,” which are described as:
In a manic episode, your teen may seem unusually happy or anxious. They may have a short temper, conduct risky behavior, and have difficulty sleeping. A manic episode could last as long as a week. Other common symptoms include high energy levels, impatience, illogical beliefs, extreme optimism, impulsiveness, among others.
Your teen may feel sad, sleep too much, and have low self-esteem. Bipolar Disorder may reveal itself as teen eating disorder during a depressive episode. And your teen may talk openly about suicide. Other common symptoms include agitation, angry outbursts, lack of motivation, heightened sensitivity, apathy, struggles in school, suicide attempts, among others.
These are periods when the ups and downs of manic and depressive symptoms change over the course of a week, or longer. Your teen is likely to have more mixed episodes than an adult with bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder is different from the changes in mood that are typically observed in teenagers. What makes bipolar disorder distinct is the severity of these changes, the impact they have on the individual’s health, and their external and internal causes. If your teenager exhibits these kinds of behaviors systematically, they may have bipolar disorder. If you believe your teen might have bipolar disorder, you should contact a certified professional in order to receive a proper diagnosis.
CAUSES OF BIPOLAR DISORDER
Bipolar disorder is diagnosable in up to 3% of American teenagers. But for parents and teenagers alike, this condition can be both confusing and frustrating. Especially if they do not understand it entirely.
Several factors may contribute to bipolar disorder, including:
Genes – Teens with a parent who has bipolar are far more likely to develop bipolar
Brain abnormalities – Usually a function of a birth defect
Anxiety disorders – Teens who have already been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder have an increased risk of bipolar disorder.
Though the causes of bipolar disorder are not yet firm, the heavy correlation between genetics and the presence of a parent with bipolar disorder helps identify the condition early to help make it manageable.
TYPES OF BIPOLAR DISORDER
Bipolar disorder can be divided into multiple subtypes. This includes bipolar 1 disorder, bipolar 2 disorder, cyclothymia, rapid cycling, and others. Bipolar 1 and bipolar are similar. Although, what makes them distinct from one another is their severity:
Bipolar I Disorder – phases of mania combined with major depression. Bipolar 1 disorder is more severe than bipolar 2 disorder. It requires at least one observable episode of mania in order to make a proper diagnosis.
Bipolar II Disorder – major depression with phases of hypomania. Bipolar II is milder and more difficult to diagnosis that Bipolar I.
Cyclothymic Disorder – depressive and hypomanic symptoms without major depression. With regards to the other variations, cyclothymia is generally considered to be the most mild. And thus, the most diagnosable, though least diagnosed.
Rapid Cycling Bipolar – does not vary in regards to severity. Rather, the length of each manic and depressive episode is much shorter in length. Only a professional psychologist can distinguish the differences between these variations.
Bipolar Disorder NOS (not otherwise specified) – the common diagnosis if symptoms do not correlate with any bipolar disorder types listed above.
UNDERSTANDING AND EMPATHIZING
Bipolar disorder is difficult for parents to empathize. They do not understand what their child or teenager might be feeling. During an episode of mania, an individual with bipolar disorder experiences a change in brain chemistry that is measurably abnormal. They speak or do things with excessive quickness, demonstrate recklessness, and act without regard to long term consequences. During an episode of depression, the individual may seem ready to give up on everything and be left alone. These feelings cannot simply be suppressed by wishing them away. They are very real and worthy of attention.
Bipolar disorder is not an easy condition to live with. It makes some tasks seem simple nearly impossible. School and work become more difficult to manage. Socialization becomes less important and isolation increases. Overall, the struggle can feel like a heavy weight on their shoulders. But with patience, kindness, and a willingness to find the best treatment options available, parents can find the help their teens need.