Bipolar disorder is a potentially debilitating mental illness that impacts the sufferer’s ability to exercise control over his moods. While this disorder is most commonly seen in adult patients, some bipolar sufferers begin to exhibit signs of the malady as early as childhood or teen years. Because teens are commonly already so sensitive and emotionally driven, this disorder’s impact on teen sufferers can be even more acute than it is upon adults.
Onset of Bipolar Disorder
KidsHealth reports that bipolar disorder is appearing with increasing frequency upon the teen population. The disorder is often initially detected through observation. If parents and teachers notice that a child’s mood control appears to be lacking, medical professionals may opt to test for bipolar disorder. This testing process generally includes the taking of a patient history as well as an extensive series of observations, as there is no chemical test for the presence of bipolar disorder.
Managing Mania and Depression
One of the primary characteristics of bipolar disorder is mania and depression. Sufferers from this disorder move in and out of these highs and lows, making it difficult for them to deal with or predict their moods. As KidsHealth reports, managing mania and depression often presents even more of a challenge in teens than it does in adults, as teens move through these swings more rapidly than adults. While adult bipolar sufferers commonly remain in manic or depressive states for weeks, teens can shift between the two extremes seemingly at the drop of a hat, moving back and forth between them multiple times in one day.
Assistance Through Medication
In most cases, part of the bipolar treatment process consists of medication. Upon diagnosis of the disorder, medical professionals commonly prescribe medications aimed at evening out the teen’s moods. Because no two cases of bipolar disorder are exactly the same, no two medication plans will be identical. Physicians generally engage in periods of trial to determine which medication or combination of medications most effectively reduces the sufferers symptoms.
Along with medication, teen bipolar patients often engage in counseling. This counseling may be one-on-one or family-based in nature. Through counseling, mental health professionals can assist the teen in dealing with the specific issues created by his disorder and monitor his moods to determine if a treatment plan change is necessary.
Drug and Alcohol Avoidance
Teens who suffer from bipolar disorder are more likely to engage in drug or alcohol abuse. Because of this tendency, these teens should be watched more closely and educated more completely on the dangers of drug and alcohol use.