In the study of child psychopathology the diagnosis of mood disorders have worked its way to the forefront no longer affecting only adults and teens.
Reported cases include children as young as 6 years old, however, there is much controversy surrounding these numbers. Many in the psychopathology field, including doctors and psych clinicians, believe there may be misdiagnoses.
BP 1 consists of shifts between despondency and mania with brief periods of normal moods between each extreme. Some children reportedly suffered less despondency than mania.
BP 2 consists of shifts between despondency and mania with more periods of despondency reported with less mania.
Common despondency symptoms in children who may be suffering from BP include:
Prolonged periods of sadness or irritability
Changes in sleep patterns (too much, problems falling asleep)
Changes in dietary habits (eating too much, no longer eating)
Lack of interest in normal activities such as friends, games, sports or hobbies
Loss of energy or lethargic
Ongoing feelings of worthlessness or guilt
Restlessness or a slowing in body movements
Common manic symptoms of children who may be suffering from BP include:
Extreme periods of giddiness, silliness, or elation to extreme irritability
Not sleeping, or sleeping very little over the course of days
Fast talking, or jumping from one topic to the next quickly and without interruption
Extremely high levels of energy
Feelings of greatness or grandiosity
Risky or wild behavior, thrill-seeking
In some episodes of mania, the child may also suffer psychotic episodes including hallucinations or the hearing of voices not audible to those around them.
How to Help a Child Suffering from this Disorder
Untreated symptoms may lead to attempts at harming themselves and even death. It’s important to seek medical advice immediately. It’s okay to seek a second opinion to insure proper diagnosis.
If drugs are given, it is important to stay on schedule and watch and report any suspected side effects.
Along with family therapy, inform the child’s teachers of the situation so they know what to look for and monitor.
Keeping a good routine both at home and at school benefits children who suffer from this disorder. Routines help to eliminate unnecessary stress in the child’s life, as well as within the family and learning structure.