Bipolar Disorder in Children and Teens (cont.)
In this Article
- What is bipolar disorder?
- What are common symptoms of bipolar disorder in children and teens?
- What affects a child's risk of getting bipolar disorder?
- How does bipolar disorder affect children and teens differently than adults?
- How is bipolar disorder detected in children and teens?
- What illnesses often co-exist with bipolar disorder in children and teens?
- What treatments are available for children and teens with bipolar disorder?
- What can children and teens with bipolar disorder expect from treatment?
- Where can families of children with bipolar disorder get help?
- Where can I go for help?
- What if my child is in crisis?
- For more information on bipolar disorder
- Find a local Doctor in your town
What affects a child's risk of getting bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder tends to run in families. Children with a parent or sibling who has bipolar disorder are four to six times more likely to develop the illness, compared with children who do not have a family history of bipolar disorder. However, most children with a family history of bipolar disorder will not develop the illness. Compared with children whose parents do not have bipolar disorder, children whose parents have bipolar disorder may be more likely to have symptoms of anxiety disorders and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Several studies show that youth with anxiety disorders are more likely to develop bipolar disorder than youth without anxiety disorders. However, anxiety disorders are very common in young people. Most children and teens with anxiety disorders do not develop bipolar disorder.
At this time, there is no way to prevent bipolar disorder. NIMH is currently studying how to limit or delay the first symptoms in children with a family history of the illness.
How does bipolar disorder affect children and teens differently than adults?
Bipolar disorder that starts during childhood or during the teen years is called early-onset bipolar disorder. Early-onset bipolar disorder seems to be more severe than the forms that first appear in older teens and adults. Youth with bipolar disorder are different from adults with bipolar disorder. Young people with the illness appear to have more frequent mood switches, are sick more often, and have more mixed episodes.
Watch out for any sign of suicidal thinking or behaviors. Take these signs seriously. On average, people with early-onset bipolar disorder have greater risk for attempting suicide than those whose symptoms start in adulthood. One large study on bipolar disorder in children and teens found that more than one-third of study participants made at least one serious suicide attempt. Some suicide attempts are carefully planned and others are not. Either way, it is important to understand that suicidal feelings and actions are symptoms of an illness that must be treated.
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