Bipolar Disorder in Children and Teens - When To Call a Doctor
Call 911, the national suicide hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255), or other emergency services right away if:
- Your child is thinking seriously of committing suicide or has recently tried to commit suicide. Serious signs include these thoughts:
- Has decided how to kill himself or herself, such as with a weapon or medicines.
- Has set a time and has a plan.
- Thinks there is no other way to solve the problem or end the pain.
- Your child feels he cannot stop from hurting himself or someone else.
Call a doctor right away if:
- Your child hears voices.
- Your child has been thinking about death or suicide a lot but does not have a plan for suicide.
- Your child is worried a lot that the feelings of depression or thoughts of suicide are not going away.
Seek care soon if:
- Your child has symptoms of depression, such as:
- Feeling sad or hopeless.
- Not enjoying anything.
- Having trouble with sleep.
- Feeling guilty.
- Feeling anxious or worried.
- Your child has been treated for depression for more than 3 weeks but is not getting better.
Who to see
It is best to build a long-term relationship with
your child's care providers so that when a depressive or manic episode occurs,
the care providers can recognize the changes in the child's behavior and
provide quick treatment advice.
may wish to find a doctor who has special training in children's mental health
conditions or experience treating bipolar disorder in young people. Bipolar
disorder can be diagnosed and treated by a health professional such as
Your child may also benefit from professional
counseling to help deal with mood changes and the
effects bipolar disorder has on your child's life. A counselor with special
training in child mood disorders or experience treating child bipolar disorder
may be most helpful. Counseling for bipolar disorder can be provided by
Other health professionals who also may be trained in
Who to see for family member support
If you are
a family member of a child with bipolar disorder, it is very important to get
the support and help you need. Living with or caring for someone who has
bipolar disorder can be very disruptive to your own life. Manic episodes can be
particularly difficult. It may help to seek your own counselor or
therapist to support you.
Also, some national support organizations
may have a local chapter in your area or provide information on the Internet.
Examples of such groups include the National Alliance on Mental Illness
(NAMI) and the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.