Childhood Bipolar Disorder - Diagnosis, Symptoms, and Other Information
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An increasing number of children have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder over the last decade. In part, this may be due to a greater awareness - in both the medical community and the general public - of the condition, leading to earlier diagnosis.
In the past, as with conditions like autism and ADHD, children with the disorder received labels as bad seeds, and the symptoms were attributed to poor parenting techniques or simple defiant behavioral issues. Experts now recognize bipolar disorder as a chronic brain condition which affects not only mood, energy and thinking, but may also have long term effects on cognition, metabolism, and other primary body systems.
In pediatric or childhood bipolar disorder, symptoms begin to become apparent early in life, with some documented cases in preschoolers. At this point in time, the exact prevalence of the disorder in children remains unknown, as it can be a challenging disorder to diagnose and treat.
Furthermore, childhood bipolar disorder affects individual children differently, and responses to treatments may vary a great deal. For some children, the frequency, intensity and duration of manic and depressive episodes can be debilitating, while for others, they interfere with some social interactions, but appear to be more manageable.
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A note about Childhood Bipolar Disorder - Diagnosis, Symptoms, and Other Information
In natural health and healing, we believe in holistic health and healing, as we realize that different parts of the human body are highly interlinked, often beyond Man's understanding. We also believe that the body has the ability to heal itself of any disease, even supposedly incurable diseases.
In order to do so, the body needs the support of some basic dietary and lifestyle good health habits, such as a full body detox and a proper understanding and application of nutrition. No matter how remote or unrelated a health condition may seem, these fundamental health steps will greatly magnify the effects and benefits of any of our health-promoting efforts, including the use of specific natural health remedies.
Some studies suggest that because the brain continues to develop until the 25th year, bipolar disorder can permanently affect the shape, size and function of certain parts of the brain and its neurotransmitter networks. In addition, as the brain matures, symptoms may also vary.
Certain disorders can also co-occur with bipolar disorder, especially in children, making diagnosis of childhood bipolar disorder even more complicated, as some can mask the underlying bipolar condition. These include: attention deficit disorder (ADD), depression, oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and seizure disorders like Tourettes syndrome.
In fact, some experts estimate that up to 85% of children with childhood bipolar disorder also have ADHD. In addition, some children have been misdiagnosed as having ADHD with depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other conditions, when in fact they have bipolar disorder (previously called manic depression) and have not yet expressed a clearly manic episode. Often, these children receive stimulants or antidepressants that may actually worsen their condition.
Experts have not yet reached consensus as to whether children with chronic irritability and clear mood swings, but without mania, should be classified as having bipolar disorder. Additionally, unlike adults, children with childhood bipolar disorder tend to rapidly cycle between manic and depressive state, sometimes within the same day, while for adults, manic and depressive states can be spread out over a period of days or weeks, with depressive states lasting more than a week.
Almost all children with childhood bipolar disorder have certain personality or temperament traits in common - they can be obstinate and oppositional, can be extraordinarily irritable, and almost all experience episodes of explosive and violent rage. Tantrums occur well into the pre-teens, and the child may act out physically, punching, kicking and throwing objects.
Certain symptoms, like the need for very little sleep during manic episodes, may even be present in infancy. The infant appears excessively active, restless, and irritable when compared to other infants the same age.
As the child grows older, many parents notice that he / she displays very precocious, energetic, and creative tendencies that appear well beyond the childs years. Intense, almost super-human creativity and rapid thought processes are hallmarks of the manic condition.
However, a bipolar childs symptoms will share many similarities with the manic and depressive states of adult sufferers. During manic episodes of childhood bipolar disorder, the child may have the following signs and symptoms:
During depression of childhood bipolar disorder, signs and symptoms will include:
Much research seems to show that childhood bipolar disorder appears to be more severe, with a longer and more complicated road to recovery than may be seen in adult-onset bipolar disorder. For many children, bipolar disorder becomes a lifelong struggle between mania and depression, becoming a continuous cycle over many months and years.
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