Caring for a child with mental health complications can be a challenging and frustrating life even for parents. With mental health disorders in children come the array of complications from delayed child growth and development, poorly developed social skills and even poor academic performance. As parents, obtaining early diagnosis and proper treatment, for a child who experiences mental health complications, will not only ensure a less complex experience within the home but also work to improve the child’s development in all areas of life.
Mental health disorders in children vary from mild depression to ADHD to even conditions such as pediatric bipolar disorder, also known as childhood bipolar disorder. As parents, understanding, in depth, the cause, origin, symptoms and various treatment options, for a child mental health disorder, will work to ensure early and consistent treatment. Of the child mental health disorders, bipolar disorder in children is often difficult to diagnosis. For many parents, the symptoms are bipolar disorder are often mistaken for typical child temperament or related to hormonal fluctuations in adolescences. As a result, many children, suffering from childhood bipolar disorder, are often misdiagnosed or under diagnosed, leading to child development complications through middle school, high school and into adulthood.
Symptoms of childhood bipolar disorder are often misdiagnosed in early childhood. For this reason, parents, when caring for a child who appears to exhibit symptoms of mental health complications, should be aware of the symptoms often associated with childhood bipolar disorders such as sudden outbursts of anger for no significant reason, hyperactivity, often mistaken for ADHD, excessive consumption of high sugar foods, excessive or too little sleep, early involvement or interest in sexual activity and even episodes of hallucinations. While these symptoms, again, may often be attributed to typical misbehavior, when more than one symptom is present, parents should consider obtain psychiatric evaluation to rule out the diagnosis of childhood bipolar disorder.
What is important to understand is that children, under the age of four, may often exhibit these behaviors as simply a process of the child growth and development process. For this reason, parents of ill-tempered toddlers should be wary of self diagnosing the child with bipolar disorder until such time as the child begin an elementary school program as it is, at that time, that the child begins to interact with other children, establish social skills and is more effectively tested by a pediatric psychiatrist. Additionally, many children who may exhibit symptoms of pediatric bipolar disorder are, instead, simply ill-tempered and, upon entering into a structured academic program, are often pressured by peers to correct behavior. If the child is truly experiencing a bipolar disorder complication, this social correction in behavior will often not take place resulting in a continued presentation of bipolar symptoms in the child.
When diagnosed with childhood bipolar disorder, there are a variety of treatment options available to the child but none will offer a cure. Unfortunately, if a child is found to suffer from pediatric bipolar disorder, the goal of parenting should focus on the management of symptoms through cognitive behavioral therapy and the use of prescription medications. For many parents, access to a support group will also prove beneficial in an effort to aid in finding creative measures to treat and management bipolar symptoms in the child.
In terms of prescription medications, children who suffer from pediatric bipolar disorder have exhibited a significant improvement in bipolar disorder symptoms when administered prescription medication commonly used to treat schizophrenia. Once such prescription drug, ABILIFY, dosed under the generic name of aripiprazole may provide the necessary correction of pediatric bipolar disorder symptoms through chemical balance and correction. When used in combination with psychotherapy, ABILIFY will provide the necessary treatment to improve child emotional, social and academic performance.
As with any child mental health disorder, researching the complications, symptoms and treatment will provide a parent with the necessary tools and foundation to begin the road to improving the child’s development through adolescence and into adulthood. Coupled with the right treatment plan, with a psychiatrist who specializes in pediatric mental health disorders, will provide the most optimal comprehensive treatment plan available.
For more information regarding pediatric bipolar disorder, visit www.bpkids.org.