Bipolar Disorder in Children

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Bipolar Disorder in children

1. Working Definition:

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depression, is a mood disorder marked by extreme changes in mood, energy levels and behavior. Mental Health America

Bipolar disorder (also known as manic-depression) is a chronic brain disorder marked by bouts of extreme and impairing changes in mood, energy, thinking, and behavior. The Balanced Mind Foundation

Pediatric bipolar disorder is a severe, recurrent and chronic mental illness that is associated with periods of mania and depression. Multiple factors contribute to the disorder, including genetic, biological, environmental and psychosocial stressors. NP's & PA's

2. General Overview:

Until recently, young people were rarely diagnosed with this disorder. Yet up to one-third of the 3.4 million children and teens with depression in the United States may actually be experiencing the early onset of bipolar disorder, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Doctors now recognize and treat the disorder in young people, but it is still an under-recognized illness. Children with bipolar disorder usually alternate rapidly between extremely high moods (mania) and low moods (depression). These mood shifts can produce irritability with periods of wellness between episodes, or the young person may feel both extremes at the same time. Parents who have children with the disorder often describe them as unpredictable, alternating between aggressive or silly and withdrawn. Children with bipolar disorder are at a greater risk for anxiety disorders and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. These "co-occurring" disorders complicate diagnosis of bipolar disorder and contribute to the lack of recognition of the illness in children. Mental Health America

Childhood bipolar disorder, also known as pediatric bipolar disorder, is a form of bipolar disorder that occurs in children. While its existence is still a matter of some academic debate and disagreement, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that bipolar disorder can exist in children.

Unlike most adults who have bipolar disorder, however, children who have pediatric bipolar disorder are characterized by abrupt mood swings, periods of hyperactivity followed by lethargy, intense temper tantrums, frustration and defiant behavior. This rapid and severe cycling between moods may produce a type of chronic irritability with few clear periods of peace between episodes. PsychCentral

3. Annotated Resources:


A bipolar daughter and the family who loves her
This blog talks about the daily life of a girl named Caroline who suffers from bipolar disorder. Her family talks about her strengths and struggles each day to help other families who may have a family member that is dealing with the same situations.

Bipolar Daily News Blog
This blog is a running list of news stories and resources for parents and families of people affected by bipolar disorder, and people who have bipolar disorder.

Living in a Bipolar World
"The clinical and research team of the Family Center for Bipolar is here to advance understanding and offer support to families dealing with a bipolar spectrum disorder."


Bipolar Disorder in Children Documentary
This is a documentary by a psychologist about children suffering from bipolar disorder. This video raises awareness to help parents and those who take care of children because there are so many children that suffer from this disease.

Childhood Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar Spectrum Disorder is rare among children. But for parents who may have concerns about their youngsters behavior, Dr. Ellen Leibenluft talks about possible warning signs. Dr. Leibenluft is Senior Investigator and Chief of the Bipolar Spectrum Disorder Section at the National Institute of Mental Health.

Notebook: Bipolar Disorder
During this video, Katie Couric talks on CBS about Bipolar Disorder in children. She shares very interesting facts about the diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder in children.


Bipolar Disorder in Children picture
This image portrays a child that seems disconnected and alone. There is also a book bag next to him and he appears to be at school, which can make teachers aware that you may have students suffering from bipolar disease.

Mood swings in children with Bipolar Disorder
This image shows an outsiders, maybe a parent or a peers, perspective on a child with bipolar disorders mood swing.

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Diseases that Often Coexist with Bipolar Disorder
This image is great view of how a child may feel when struggling with bipolar disorder.


Eli the Bipolar Bear By: Sharon Bracken (2010)
Eli the Bipolar Bear is about a child struggling with drastic mood swings and seeking to resolve the issue that is disrupting his whole life. With the help of his parents and a wise old bear, Eli is able to understand what is happening to him and find resources to manage this disorder.

Darcy Daisy and the Firefly Festival By: Lisa M. Lewandowski Ph.D. & Shannon M.B. Trost B.S. (2005)
Darcy Daisy is upset and confused after hearing rumors about Ms. Zinnia, a community member who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She shares her concerns with her mother, who helps Darcy get answers to her questions about the illness. This book is intended to help children understand what bipolar disorder is, the importance of community acceptance, the need to alleviate fear by collecting good information and the harm that can result from rumors and gossip. With whimsical illustrations by Kimberly Shaw-Peterson.

Turbo Max: A Story for Siblings and Friends of Children with Bipolar Disorder (Tracy Anglada, 2008).
"There is one thing that Rick wants this summer, a Turbo Max remote control car. When his parents buy him a diary instead, Rick knows it's going to be a long summer. A contest at the hobby shop gives him hope that he can win the remote control car of his dreams. Just when the new car seems within grasp, Rick's sister is hospitalized with bipolar disorder. As Rick struggles to understand Mandy's illness and cope with its effects on his life, his hopes of winning are broken. But with some creative helpers and the advice from Mandy's doctor, Rick just might have one last chance. Turbo Max is much more than a journey through one boy's summer as recorded in his diary. It's a journey from confusion to understanding, from embarrassment to advocacy, from anger and guilt to acceptance. It's a journey that all siblings of children with bipolar disorder need to make in their own way and time. It is hoped that Turbo Max will be an important step in this journey. Recommended for ages 8-12".


Bipolar Disorder in Children Misdiagnosis, Underdiagnosis, and Future Directions
(Elizabeth B. Weller, M.D., Ronald A. Weller, M.D.,Mary A. Fristad, PH.D., 2009).
Bipolar disorder was not seen in children until 1960. This article discusses the frequent cases of prepubertal children and how manic bipolar disorder has affected them. The article also discusses the diagnosis and treatment of bipolar disorder in children.

Bipolar Disorder in Children: Diagnostic and Treatment Issues
(Nancy Ferguson-Noyes, NP, 2005)
Pediatric bipolar disorder is a severe, recurrent and chronic mental illness that is associated with periods of mania and depression.
Without prompt diagnosis and treatment, bipolar disorder can disrupt normal emotional, social and cognitive development and lead to risky behaviors such as drug and alcohol use as well as attempted suicide. This article discusses diagnostic and ethical dilemmas for medical practitioners when encountering a child with bipolar disorder.

For Girls Only
(Tracy Anglada)

"One of the very first challenges facing girls with bipolar disorder is getting diagnosed correctly. Girls have bipolar disorder as often as boys do, but during childhood boys may be diagnosed more often than girls". This article discusses further about treatment for girls and side effects that girls may go through while dealing with bipolar disorders.