While all kids go through periods of sadness and delight, for children who suffer from bipolar disorder, these personality swings are more acute. Bipolar disorder was once almost exclusively seen in adults but is now being diagnosed in children in ever-increasing numbers. If you worry that your child’s behavior may be outside the norm, consider the possibility that he suffers from this potentially serious mental illness. By exploring your concerns and confirming your suspicions, you can ensure that your child receives the medial attention he requires to overcome this disorder.
Monitor your child’s moods. If you truly want to know whether your child’s mood swings deviate from the norm, you must dedicate a little more effort to monitoring his moods. Watch your child a bit more closely for several days to ensure that what you think you see is in fact real. Jot down the date and time of any severe mood change and write several sentences about what you observe. By taking the time to record this information, you can craft a record of your observations that can be helpful in the diagnosis process.
Consider how extreme your child’s moods seem to be. When your child is playing with other same-age peers, keep an eye on these peers as well. Explore how they exhibit mood shifts and consider whether your child’s behavior is really that different from theirs. Tantrum behavior, for example, is quite common in children. If you notice that your child’s outbursts are similar to others that you see around the playground, you may not have any cause for concern.
Note the duration of these extreme periods of mania or depression. Bipolar individuals may remain depressed for several days or weeks, then become overly happy, or manic, for a similar period of time. If your child’s sadness or extreme happiness seem to be overly long in duration, note the lengths of these periods on the same pages upon which you recorded your behavioral observations.
Explore your family history to determine whether or not bipolar disorder is present in your family. While not true 100 percent of the time, bipolar disorder is largely hereditary, reports the National Institute of Mental Health. Ask around about bipolar disorder to determine whether anyone in your family has ever suffered from this condition. If so, the odds of your child suffering from it may be greater.
Speak to your child’s pediatrician about your concerns. The only way to truly know if your child suffers from bipolar disorder is to obtain an official diagnosis from a doctor. To obtain this diagnosis, share your concerns with your pediatrician. Provide him with the documentation you gathered regarding your child’s behavior. He will use your records, along with an assortment of assessment tools, to determine whether or not your child is a bipolar sufferer.