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Bipolar Disorder During the Teen Years

Recognizing the Possible Signs of Bipolar Disorder in Your Adolescent

bipolar disorderThe teenage years are emotional for many families. But for some adolescents, the emotional highs and lows are even more extreme. That’s because while bipolar disorder tends to manifest in early adulthood, it can appear during the teen years. It’s important for families to recognize the signs of bipolar in order to differentiate between that and normal teen angst.

Bipolar disorder can show up anywhere, but it does appear to run in families. When a parent (or parents) has bipolar disorder, the chances of a child also developing the condition are five to 10 percent higher than for kids with no family history of the illness. Genetics is the first risk factor of which to be aware.

Beyond family history, there would be other signs that your teen is dealing with something beyond normal adolescent emotions. Bipolar disorder is so named because of the emotional swings from one mood extreme to the other. It is frequently the case that only the depressive cycle gets noticed, but there are two distinct phases.

Depressive

The depressive phase shares the same symptoms as mild-major depression: changed sleep, changed appetite, lack of interest in things once enjoyed, persistent sadness and trouble focusing.

Mania

The opposite pole from depression is called mania. During mania your teen may seem inexplicably giddy or silly. They may express feelings of exalted self-perception, seem to have boundless energy with little need for sleep or engage in risk-taking behaviors. Extreme talkativeness is another sign, as is being highly irritable.

If you suspect that your teen may be experiencing these extreme highs and lows, they could be experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder. Family Guidance Center is here to help you and your teen. Give us a call and learn how we can help.

Family and Friends Important in the Management of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder 1Bipolar disorder can be a lonely disease, but it doesn’t have to be. While friends and family members are important to staying healthy, in states of mania or depression,  they are often the first to be cut off from the affected person’s life. Stigma can cause individuals to withhold information about their condition, but that only serves to make matters worse. Being forthright with issues of mental health is the easiest way to help others understand and gain support.

A recent article found at WebMD underscores some ways to initiate open and honest communication with loved ones and peers.

  • Develop a support network Pick several people that you trust to be members of your support team. One person is not sufficient. Parents, siblings, other family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, or even a social worker or pastor can all be integral should an emergency occur.

  • Teach them about bipolar disorder Let family and friends know that highs and lows are normal symptoms of the condition and educate them regarding what to expect when you have an episode. Discuss any pertinent treatment plans and advise that their involvement is crucial in your management of the disorder. If you have children, they also should receive an age-appropriate explanation of the disorder so that they are not fearful.

  • Devise a plan It’s hard to think clearly in a state of mania or depression. Having a plan in place with specific boundaries ensures you get help when you need it but also prevents a well-meaning person from being too overbearing. Talk about what will happen if things get out of control. For instance, in a state of mania, maybe a family member takes your keys to prevent rash behavior.

  • Get help Research indicates that about 4 percent of the population may be affected by symptoms of bipolar disorder. You are not alone. Keep contact with friends and family and fight the urge to withdraw.

For the past 100 years, professionals at the Family Guidance Center have been working to reduce stigma and help those with mental illness live happier, healthier lives. There are many different types of treatment available for those with bipolar disorder, and many people with this illness can lead productive, successful lives. If you would like to learn more about the disease or have questions, contact Family Guidance Center.