Bipolar disorder in children is characterized by a number of symptoms, typically marked by rapid mood fluctuations and hyperactivity. These symptoms are responsible for the significant distress in the child, which can only be managed with treatment.
A lot of parents or practitioners may tend to misunderstand a bipolar disorder diagnosis as not every child with a persistent or frequent mood swings, irritability or temper explosions is bipolar. With a sure diagnosis (at least twice) a child’s diagnosis can be accurate before treatment is embarked upon.
In diagnosing a bipolar disorder, a qualified medical practitioner won’t just go running several blood tests or a brain scan rather he or she will probe and ask questions. These questions will largely border on the child’s frequency of mood swings, energy, temper outbursts, behavior and anxiety or sleep patterns. The doctor can also ask about family history or family members with the genes. He or she may also check for underlying problems that may be an indication of other health conditions, asides the bipolar disorder.
At the moment, there isn’t yet cure for bipolar disorder. Persistent treatments in the form of therapy and medication can only be given to the child, to help manage the symptoms. There are a number of psychotherapies with which to help the bipolar child live and manage his or her behaviors better. Family members can also help the child with talk therapy, in their everyday routine.
Again, there are various medications that can help the child, depending on the kind of symptoms they exhibit. Also be consistent with your child’s medication as irregularities can worsen the disorder. Be careful however, so as not to overdo or administer too many drugs that may have side effects on the child. Always check with the doctor.
You may also notice that a child’s bipolar disorder symptoms will change along the line, requiring a change in treatment. As a parent, you must be up close and personal with the child, so that you can tell when adjustments are required, with the doctor’s guidance of course. The more persistent you are with following up on the child’s treatment, the more the child is likely to grow with fewer bipolar symptoms.
To track your child’s progress better, you may keep records of your child’s sleep patterns, moods and behaviors, so you can monitor the progress and changes. Once you notice changes, let a doctor know.
Coping with a bipolar child can be really hard and can take a toll on the parents, but you don’t have to give up. The following tips can help you get by:
- Practice patience, as you will need a lot of it to cope with the many mood swings and temper explosions
- Encourage your child to talk and open up to you and when they do, pay attention
- Empathize and be understanding when the child is having depressive/ mood episodes.
- Create numerous fun activities and nudge the child into it
- Have a positive approach towards treatment, that way the child will begin to see that treatment can make things better and he or she will comply
- A bipolar child can be restless, out of control and can get his/herself or you into problems with other people. Don’t allow your relationship with others get strained over it. Manage it well.
- Watch out for any signs of suicidal thinking or self-harm. Don’t take these signs lightly, let the doctor know immediately.
- Don’t lose yourself in taking care of your bipolar child. You need to take care of yourself too.
- Have someone you can talk to, don’t bottle the frustrations all in.
- You are the parent, but the responsibility of child care is not solely yours. You can involve caregivers or get family members or friends to support.
- Keep your stress level down, so that you can keep coping and giving your child all the support needed.
With treatment and follow up, a child with a bipolar disorder can have the symptoms properly managed and grow up to live a good life.