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          Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

          March 06, 2006

          So many parents express concern about their children being diagnosed with bipolar at age 5, 10 or 15. How is bipolar diagnosed and what are some of the early onset signs?

          First of all, it typically takes 8 to 10 years after the first signs of bipolar to receive the appropriate diagnosis. However, children and teens can have symptoms or early onset of bipolar, and bipolar can affect a person at any age. According to the International Society for Bipolar Disorders, 50 percent of parents who bring their kids in for bipolar actually have the disorder. The other half have other disorders that mimic bipolar such as ADHD or Asperger’s and could be misdiagnosed. You must make sure your kids are appropriately diagnosed or they could receive the wrong medication, which could have detrimental side effects.

          Here is what parents need to be looking for in their children:

          Symptoms of Mania:

          – Significantly decreased need for sleep

          -Exaggerated or inappropriate happiness, silliness or giddiness
          – Inappropriate grandiose ideations, exaggerated self-esteem, unrealistic beliefs about their own powers
          – Higher than normal energy levels – Exaggerated talkativeness
          – Racing thoughts
          – Hypersexuality

          Symptoms of Depression:
          - Exaggerated sadness, tearfulness
          - Lack of ability to enjoy things
          - Lack of desire to be with friends, family; withdrawn, isolated
          - Lack of motivation to do things formerly enjoyed
          - Tiredness, low energy, poor performance at school
          - Wishing they were dead, thoughts of suicide, or suicide attempts

          Symptoms of Mania and Depression:
          - Marked changes in sleep patterns
          - Marked changes in school performance
          - Anxiety, worries or panic attacks
          - Agitation
          - Poor concentration
          - Excessive and inappropriate irritability
          - Hallucinations or having delusions
          - Aggressive behaviors against others or self

          Most importantly, if you have concerns about your child's behavior, get him or her to a child specialist who can make an accurate diagnosis.

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