One of the most common misconceptions about bipolar disorder in teens is that it can instantaneously switch their personality from manic to depressive. The reality is, while the moods can reach extreme highs and lows, it would be more accurate to describe them as general phases guided by an overarching theme of depression or mania.
It’s Not Just a Mood Swing
Bipolar disorder in teens is similar to bipolar disorder in adults, although oftentimes, it is more severe and causes the moods to cycle more quickly. Symptoms of bipolar disorder in teens during a mania include: rapid speech, trouble focusing, racing thoughts, functioning on very little sleep, increased sex drive, and a tendency toward reckless behavior (including substance abuse). When the bipolar disorder in teens takes a turn toward depression, the symptoms may be very similar to a regular depression, including: sadness, sluggishness, sleeping too much or too little, feelings of worthlessness, unhealthy eating patterns, and not finding fun activities pleasurable. As with most forms of bipolar disorder, mixed moods make diagnosing the problem more difficult – a depressed teen might have moments of joy, while a manic one can feel sadness.
Parents can take several steps to help deal with bipolar disorder in teens. It is important to be supportive and open to talk about the problem. Your child must feel safe communicating with you – that way, the worst of the moments can be avoided. Keeping a routine with exercise, healthy eating patterns, and regular sleep can aid in managing the symptoms, while helping your child have fun – especially during a depression – can make even the worst of times bearable.
Unfortunately, bipolar disorder in teens does not go away. As such, educating yourself on the available treatments can help keep you up-to-date. In most cases, it can prove worthwhile to combine positive habits with professional help.