- What is Bipolar Disorder?
- What are common symptoms of bipolar disorder in children and teens?
- What affects a child’s risk of getting bipolar disorder?
- How does bipolar disorder affect children and teens differently than adults?
- How is bipolar disorder detected in children and teens?
- What illnesses often co-exist with bipolar disorder in children and teens?
- What treatments are available for children and teens with bipolar disorder?
- What can children and teens with bipolar disorder expect from treatment?
- Where can families of children with bipolar disorder get help?
- Where can I go for help?
- What if my child is in crisis?
- For more information on bipolar disorder
How does bipolar disorder affect children and teens differently than adults?
Bipolar disorder that starts during childhood or during the teen years is called early-onset bipolar disorder. Early-onset bipolar disorder seems to be more severe than the forms that first appear in older teens and adults.7, 8 Youth with bipolar disorder are different from adults with bipolar disorder. Young people with the illness appear to have more frequent mood switches, are sick more often, and have more mixed episodes.8
Watch out for any sign of suicidal thinking or behaviors. Take these signs seriously. On average, people with early-onset bipolar disorder have greater risk for attempting suicide than those whose symptoms start in adulthood.7, 9 One large study on bipolar disorder in children and teens found that more than one-third of study participants made at least one serious suicide attempt.10 Some suicide attempts are carefully planned and others are not. Either way, it is important to understand that suicidal feelings and actions are symptoms of an illness that must be treated.
For more information on suicide, see the NIMH publication, Suicide in the U.S.: Statistics and Prevention.