everyone in the family
disorder Ė once known as manic depression, always known as
a ferocious mental illness that affected adultsĖ seems to
be showing up in children at an increasing rate and that has
taken a lot of mental-health professionals by surprise. Doctors are looking deeper into the condition to try and
understand its underlying causes.
They are coming to the conclusion that large numbers
of teens and children are suffering from this condition.
is not an illness that can be allowed to go untreated as the
entire family is affected.
Victims of bipolar may have an alcoholism and
drug-abuse rate triple that of the rest of the population
and experience a higher suicide rate that may approach 20%.
Often the individual will suffer for years before
their condition is properly diagnosed, and possibly even
longer before it is appropriately treated.
If you donít catch it early on, according to many
doctors, it gets worse.
Although it can be devastating when an adult is
diagnosed, itís tragic when it affects a child.
Bad to Worse
children, however, things arenít always so clear.
Children with this condition may flit back and forth among
mood states several times a day.
In the morning, bipolar children are more difficult to rouse
than the average child. They
seem oppositional and resistant.
They may be irritable with a tendency to snap or gripe or
they may be sullen and withdrawn.
midday the darkness lifts and bipolar children may enjoy a few clear
hours, enabling them to focus and take part in school.
By 3 or 4 pm, these kids can become wild, wired or giddy in a
strained way. They may
laugh too loudly when something seems funny or go on laughing, long
after the joke is over. Their
play can have an aggressive quality.
They may make up stories or insist they have superhuman
abilities. They resist
efforts to settle them and may throw tantrums if their needs are
denied. Such wildness
can often continue deep into the night.
the illness is not identified, the consequences can be severe since
bipolar children get worse as they get older.
In school the academic challenges can kick the disorder into
overdrive as the child may have difficulty mastering executive
functions such as organizing, planning and thinking problems
through. At puberty,
the rush-of-hormones make this already difficult situation, worse.
as children receive proper diagnosis, appropriately supported with
balanced and managed therapies by qualified professionals, including
family counseling, they can meet their challenges with success.
Syeda Hasan, associated with Childrenís Specialized Hospital, has
presented the topic of Children with Bipolar and its Diagnosis to
parents, teachers and caregivers through Programs for
Education sponsored by The CHILD Organization.
Professional development hours are also available for this program.
A Susan Ibarra Publication, All Rights Reserved
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