Ok, I don’t want to do the abc thing. It’s not what I want to write about. So I won’t. I want to write about something I care about, something that moves me.
Can I just say that I HATE Bipolar disorder ? ‘Cuz I really do. It robs children and adults alike of the joy that life has to offer, instead offering endless days and nights of cycling torture. There is no cure, and medicine’s only “take the edge off” of the symptoms, leaving a foggy mind that is expected to function as quickly as everyone else does.
Bipolar disorder affects approximately 5-7% of all children and adolescents, but that number is rising as doctors are learning to recognize the symptoms. Children and adolescents may present differently than adults, but research is showing that as these children mature, their diagnosis remains the same. When the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV was published, this disorder had not yet been recognized in the pediatric population.
Bipolar disorder is often accompanied by symptoms of other psychiatric disorders (those other disorders are said to be “comorbid” with the bipolar disorder). In some children, proper treatment for bipolar disorder clears up the symptoms thought to indicate another diagnosis. In other children, bipolar disorder may explain only part of a more complicated case that includes neurological, developmental, and other components. An accurate diagnosis of a child or teen presenting with severely troubled behavior is perhaps the most problematic issue facing families.
- Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)*
- Oppositional-defiant disorder (ODD)
- Conduct disorder (CD)
- Pervasive developmental disorder (PDD)
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Panic disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Tourette’s syndrome (TS)
- Seizure disorders
- Reactive attachment disorder (RAD)
* It is estimated that 85% of children with bipolar disorder also have ADHD and up to 22% of children with ADHD have bipolar disorder.3
**Depression in children and teens is often chronic and cyclical. A significant proportion of the millions of children and adolescents with depression may actually be experiencing the early onset of bipolar disorder, but have not yet experienced the manic phase of the illness.
Bipolar disorder is often misdiagnosed as:
- ADHD or ADHD with depression
- Borderline personality disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Substance abuse
Just, as juvenile diabetes is generally a more severe disorder than adult-onset diabetes, pediatric bipolar disorder appears to be more perilous than adult-onset bipolar disorder. The rationale for early intervention is compelling.
There is also some evidence that children with bpd may have smaller amygdala’s than other children. Because the amygdala is an organ in the brain that controls emotion, this is a significant finding.
So, why did I post all this? Because it affects 3 of my 4 children. Because they have a label. Because their label, instead of inducing compassion and empathy in others like a label of juvenile diabetes does, instead induces statements like “weird” “psycho” and other less attractive terms. Because the next time someone is behaving a little out of the ordinary, instead of talking about them, snubbing them, and being just downright rude, maybe you will take a moment to brighten a day that may very well have been planned to end in a suicide attempt. Maybe you will realize that there is a human being in there that also needs care and affection and understanding. Maybe you will talk to your teens about mental illness, and attempt to destimatize it, understanding that it is a biological disorder just like diabetes, cancer, or any other more “sexy” diagnosis. And just maybe, you can save a life. Because that is what this Man taught, all of His earthly days, and continues to teach now.