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Bipolar Disorder in Children and Teens - Topic Overview

Children with this disorder are more likely to have other problems. These include alcohol and drug abuse, trouble in school, running away from home, fighting, and even suicide. Treating the disorder as early as possible may keep your child from having these problems.

Watch for the warning signs of suicide, which change with age. Warning signs of suicide in children and teens may include thinking too much about death or suicide. Watch also for things that can trigger a suicide attempt such as a recent breakup of a relationship or the loss of a parent or close family member through death or divorce.

The mood changes that come with bipolar disorder can be a challenge. But with the right treatment, they can be managed well. Treatment usually includes both medicine (such as mood stabilizers) and counseling.

An important part of treatment is making sure your child takes his or her medicine. Children and teens with this disorder sometimes stop taking their medicines when they feel better. But without medicine, their symptoms usually come back.

Medicines for bipolar disorder in adults have been well studied. But more research is being done on how the medicines work and if they are safe for children and teens.

Keeping a consistent sleep-wake schedule is an important first step in managing bipolar disorder. Set a regular sleep-wake schedule for your child, to make sure they go to bed and wake up the same time every day, even on weekends.

Accepting that your child has bipolar disorder can be hard. The disorder can be a serious, lifelong problem. Your child will need long-term treatment and will need to be watched carefully. By working with your child's doctor, you can find a treatment that works for your child.

Learning about bipolar disorder in children and teens:

Being diagnosed:

Getting treatment:

Ongoing concerns:

Living with child bipolar disorder:

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 23, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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