Understanding Pediatric Bipolar Disorder.
Bipolar Disorder is a serious mental illness marked by extreme changes in mood, thinking, and behavior. In children and teens, Bipolar Disorder can affect their relationships with family or friends. ABILIFY is indicated for the treatment of manic and mixed episodes associated with Bipolar I Disorder in pediatric patients 10 to 17 years of age.
In Bipolar Disorder, your child may experience extreme or frequent "mood swings," which are not the same as normal transitioning from happy to sad. These mood changes are known as "episodes" and there are three basic kinds: manic, depressive, and mixed. Mixed episodes include both manic and depressive symptoms.
Symptoms of Manic Episodes
A diagnosis for a manic episode includes either an elevated or an irritable mood lasting at least a week plus three or more of the following symptoms:
- Talking too fast or too much
- Risky or impulsive behavior, like inappropriate sex talk or behavior or excessive spending sprees
- Needing little sleep
- Being easily distracted (your attention shifts between many topics in just a few minutes)
- Having an inflated feeling of power, greatness, or importance
- Intense focus on goal-directed activity
- Racing thoughts
Symptoms of Depressive Episodes
A diagnosis for a major depressive episode requires having a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in activities a person used to enjoy. In addition, four of the following symptoms must also be present nearly every day for at least two weeks:
- Low energy or fatigue
- Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
- Difficulty concentrating
- Irritability, restlessness, or being slowed down
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Significant weight change
- Thoughts about suicide or dying
Compared to adults, young people with Bipolar Disorder tend to have more mixed episodes, and are more prone to very rapid changes between high (manic) and low (depressive) moods. See adult symptoms of Bipolar Disorder.
The specific cause of Bipolar Disorder is unknown. It is thought to be caused by changes or an imbalance in the chemistry of the brain. Bipolar Disorder appears to run in families.
There are no lab or brain imaging tests that can detect Bipolar Disorder. Bipolar Disorder can be mistaken for other conditions that have similar symptoms. Your child's doctor or therapist must take a thorough history of the patient and your family. The doctor will ask about your child's moods, behavior, sleep habits, and other factors. It is important to be honest about all your child's symptoms, such as feeling unusually happy, energetic, or talking fast. The doctor may also use tests to see if your child's symptoms could be caused by another illness.
Challenges for your child
Pediatric Bipolar Disorder and its treatment can take a toll on your child's ability to function in different areas, such as at home, school and in social situations. They may have trouble connecting with family members or peers. Or they may have mood swings at "inappropriate" times, causing others to react in a certain way. They may also have difficulty concentrating and remembering the things they're supposed to. And in general, they probably feel misunderstood. It's important to try and relate to your child and understand the challenges they may be facing. That way, you'll learn how to handle certain situations better, while helping them to better cope with the things and people around them.
Substance abuse and suicide are serious risks, which is why accurate diagnosis is so important for children and teens who may have Bipolar Disorder. With proper treatment, Bipolar Disorder symptoms can be managed.
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