Bipolar affective disorder


Bipolar affective disorder is a condition characterized by abnormally frequent mood swings.

People with this disorder experience short, intense outbursts in which they feel a rush of energy and their mood is highly elevated /mania/ or irritable several times almost every day. When they are in a low mood, they feel depressed and sad.

In the past, experts thought the condition was the same in children and adults. But the symptoms in children and teenagers are different from those in adults and they need different treatment.

What are the symptoms?

Children and teenagers’ moods change quickly and swing from one extreme to another for no apparent reason. Some children return to their usual behavior in the time between extreme states.

Most children go from mania to depression constantly, sometimes several times in the same day. Sometimes children with bipolar disorder exhibit symptoms of mania and depression at the same time.

Periods of mania or depression are usually less noticeable in children and teenagers than in adults.

During the manic period, children and adolescents may show the following signs:

• Feel irritated and exhibit aggressive outbursts of irritation;
• Appear extremely happy and very energetic;
• Touch their genitals and make sexual hints to others;
• They don’t sleep much and walk around the house looking for something to do;
• They talk a lot quickly;

During the Depression:

• Share feeling empty, sad, bored, or defeated;
• Complain of headaches, muscle and stomach aches, or feeling tired.
• They often spend time alone and can very easily feel rejected or criticized.
• They move very slowly.

What are the causes?

It is generally accepted that the condition has a family history. And your child is at greater risk if a close family member such as a parent, grandparent, sibling or sister are affected.

Stressful or traumatic events can trigger periods of mania or depression. Although it is normal for such events to trigger mood swings, the behavioral response of children with bipolar disorder is much more extreme .

Sometimes the manifestations of the condition are provoked by another disease such as an overactive thyroid gland /hyperthyroidism/ or multiple sclerosis.

Also, the signs can occur as a side effect of certain medications such as corticosteroids or antidepressants. Using drugs or alcohol, consuming too much caffeine, or not getting enough sleep can also trigger manic episodes.

Bipolar Affective Disorder Treatment

Mood swings and other symptoms are challenging for medical science but they can be managed effectively.

Treatment usually consists of drug therapy as the medications used are known as mood stabilizers and counseling of the child. Combination therapy is often applied or required.

It is important to make sure your child is taking their prescribed medicine. Often people think that because a child feels better after taking the medicine for a while, they are already cured and no longer needs treatment.

But when your child stops therapy prematurely, after a while the symptoms will return, so it is important to follow the prescribed treatment schedule.

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