purposes only. Any person depicted here is a model and not an
actual patient unless otherwise noted.
Medication, therapy, regular discussions with the doctor, and the support of family and friends should all be important parts of your child's treatment plan. You may also want to discuss with the healthcare provider how a few lifestyle changes could help your child maintain a healthy life with bipolar I disorder. Select a topic to learn more.
Maintain balanced nutrition. While there are no specific dietary requirements for patients with bipolar I disorder, a balanced diet can help provide a consistent level of energy. A healthy balance should include:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains such as cereals, breads, and pasta
- Lean proteins such as poultry and fish
Talk to a doctor before changing your child’s diet.
Stay hydrated. Your child should drink plenty of water and avoid getting over-heated or dehydrated.
Engage in doctor-approved exercise. Regular exercise can help manage energy, weight, and stress. It can also contribute to overall health. Talk to a doctor before your child begins any new exercise program.
Stick to a regular sleep schedule. It’s important to go to bed and wake up at a consistent time every day, even on weekends. Disrupted sleep patterns can affect your child's mood. Keep in mind, in a 4-week clinical study of pediatric patients 10 to 17 years of age with bipolar I disorder, 23% taking ABILIFY (aripiprazole) felt sleepy or tired compared with 3% of patients on placebo. Even if your child does not feel tired, you should not allow him or her to drive or operate hazardous machinery until you know how ABILIFY affects your child.
Avoid alcohol and illegal drugs. Your teen should not drink alcohol while taking ABILIFY. Abuse of alcohol or drugs can interfere with treatment goals. Even a small amount of alcohol or an illicit drug may trigger an episode, disrupt sleep patterns, and interfere with medication.
Being the parent of a child with bipolar I disorder can be a challenge. Dealing with mood swings and disruptive behavior is hard, and it may be important for members of the family, siblings included, to understand what is going on and know how to respond.
Here are a few things you can do to help manage the extreme mood swings of bipolar I disorder in the home:
- Create a calm and stable environment, and try to reduce stress by using good listening and communication skills
- Set reasonable expectations for behavior, give praise often, and reward appropriate behavior
- Be patient and ignore minor negative behavior
- Help your child anticipate and prepare for stressful situations by developing coping strategies beforehand
- Encourage and engage your child's creativity by getting him or her involved in activities that encourage these strengths
- Provide a routine structure and freedom within limits (especially for older children and adolescents)
- Use calming music or sounds, or massage, to help your child relax and deal with transitions like falling asleep or waking
To help your child handle homework, consider the following:
- Establish a routine schedule for homework, including a regular time and place
- Limit distracting noise and activity during homework hours (calming music or sounds may help them stay focused)
- Divide assignments into smaller segments that will be less overwhelming, and reward with praise and a short break when a segment is completed
- Have your child work a certain amount of time and then stop (if the workload is excessive, work with his or her teachers to seek accommodations to make it more manageable)
In the Classroom
Bipolar I disorder may affect a child's ability to focus and learn. The condition can present challenges for the teacher, the student, and the classroom environment.
However, there are things you can consider when working with your child and his or her teachers:
- Engage your child's teachers and school administrators early on, and help them understand how bipolar I disorder affects your child's learning style
- Ask to have your child's homework modified so that it is manageable
- Ask your child's teachers to provide extra time for finishing tests and assignments
- If necessary, work with teachers to establish weekly goals with rewards for achievement
- Ask if your child can use a computer for written assignments, and a calculator for math
Bipolar I disorder can affect your child's ability to relate to their peers. It can become difficult to make friends, or to be involved in activities. Here are some tips for building healthy social relationships:
Practice social skills at home. It's important to help your child understand how to make friends. Being home with family is a safe place for your child to learn what upsets others (eg, bossy, controlling behavior), and what appeals to them.
Create a social dynamic. Give your child opportunities to practice good social behavior. Team sports, clubs, and community functions can be good ways to expose your child to other kids who have similar interests.
For more tips, take a look at online information and support.
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