Bipolar disorder often called manic depression is a serious chronic condition. Toddler bipolar disorder is a very real issue that needs to be taken seriously by all parties involved. This type of depression is characterized by mood cycling, from highs to lows. The low moods are characterized by depression so serious they may be unable to feel pleasure. The high moods are distinguished by having lots of energy and feeling euphoric. When treated correctly pediatric bipolar disorder patients can live “normal” and fulfilling lives.
When trying to diagnose a young child the process is very hard and can take a rather long time. Many times toddlers are often thought to have other disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Therefore is very important as a parent to ensure your child receives a thorough evaluation and is diagnosed correctly.
Common symptoms associated with pediatric bipolar disorder include:
Frequent mood swings
Easily angered or saddened
Intentional destruction of items
Cruelty to animals
*If suspected it is best to consult your child’s pediatrician as soon as possible. It is also imperative to see a pediatric psychiatrist.
Some of the symptoms may seem like typical toddler behavior, but when a child has this disorder the symptoms are very obvious, far from typical toddler behavior. For instance, a toddler with bipolar disorder is so hyper they cannot function on a daily basis nor can they do a simple and quick activity. When a toddler with this disorder has a tantrum it may last for hours and become so severe that the child’s eyes may appear to glaze over and have just a blank type stare, as if they are looking right through you.
Bipolar disorder is highly inheritable. Due to the fact that this mental disorder is genetic, many psychiatrists believe symptoms are seen as early as the toddler years. If you have a family history of this condition it is best to keep a close watch for these common symptoms. If bipolar disorder is left untreated the consequences can be devastating. Many times when this condition has gone untreated the child/adult have thoughts of suicide and due to the impulsiveness characterized by bipolar these thoughts are often seen through.
The treatment for bipolar disorder is fairly simple. The first line of defense is medication specifically meant to treat this condition. The second most important part of treatment is therapy with a professional who is educated in bipolar disorder. Special accommodations at school or daycare that may help a young child with this condition include a consistent routine and reducing stressful triggers. It may also be helpful to practice relaxation techniques with your child such as the use of relaxing music, sounds, and deep breathing
Since medication is the most critical part of treatment it is vital that your child has the correct diagnosis. If your child is misdiagnosed and is treated for ADHD, those medications may make the bipolar disorders symptoms much worse. There have not been many studies done on safe and effective medications for children so there are only a few medications that are FDA approved to treat pediatric bipolar disorder. Close medical supervision is always required when an individual is on medication or has an illness. The sooner that bipolar disorder is diagnosed and treated, the less of a chance this illness has of affecting your child’s future.
“Bipolar Toddler Symptoms” Kristen McClure Therapist
“About Pediatric Bipolar Disorder” Child & Adolescent Bipolar Foundation