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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.

You 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 a:

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 a:

Other health professionals who also may be trained in counseling include:

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