If your teenager has been showing signs of extreme highs and lows, from seemingly random mood swings to bursts of energy or depression, they could show signs of bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is a severe mental health condition that affects 1 in every 200 teenagers worldwide.
Parents need to recognize the warning signs—early diagnosis and treatment can help teens cope better with their condition, lead an everyday life, achieve success in work and relationships, and avoid some of its associated risks.
In this blog post, we’ll look at 10 common symptoms of teenage bipolar disorder so you can get an idea if it might be beneficial for them to seek professional help and opt for a bipolar disorder treatment program Los Angeles.
What Is Bipolar Disorder In Teens?
Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder characterized by extreme mood swings and shifts in energy.
This can range from manic episodes of intense happiness, restlessness, impulsivity, and euphoria to depressive episodes of deep sadness, hopelessness, exhaustion, and despair.
It has two main subtypes: Bipolar I Disorder (rapid cycling) and Bipolar II Disorder (slower cycling).
Bipolar I Disorder (Rapid Cycling)
The most severe form, rapid cycling, is characterized by intense manic episodes that last hours or days and can lead to reckless behavior, agitation, racing thoughts, paranoia, and psychosis.
It is usually accompanied by depressive episodes of lethargy, sadness, hopelessness, and self-doubt.
Bipolar II Disorder (Slower Cycling)
The less severe form, Bipolar II disorder or slower cycling, is characterized by milder manic episodes that last a few days or weeks and are usually followed by a long period of depression.
These episodes can still lead to recklessness, irritability, anxiety, and paranoia, but they typically don’t include psychosis or hallucinations.
10 Signs of Bipolar Disorder In Teens
Depressive and manic symptoms are entirely dissimilar from one another. While mood swings in teens with bipolar disorder resemble adults in many ways, one distinction is that during manic episodes, teens frequently exhibit irritability rather than joy.
When experiencing a manic episode, a teen with bipolar disorder might:
- Engage in risky behavior
- Have racing thoughts and talk rapidly
- Be more active than usual
- Have difficulty focusing or concentrating on tasks
- Lose track of time
- Sleep less than expected, but still feel energized
- Experience short temper
- Compulsions such as binge shopping
- Become too sexually active
- Hurriedly switch between tasks
When experiencing a depressive episode, a teen with bipolar disorder might:
- Feel sad or hopeless
- Lose interest in activities they find enjoyable
- Sleep too much and/or have difficulty sleeping
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Have difficulty concentrating
- Experience changes in appetite
- Feel agitated, irritable, or restless
- Feel empty, useless, and guilty
- Ponder death and suicide a lot
- Be unresolved
What Causes Bipolar Disorder In Teens?
The exact cause of teen’s bipolar disorder is unknown, However, a mix of genetic and environmental variables is thought to be responsible.
It is thought that specific genes may make some individuals more likely to develop this condition, while stressful life events or traumatic experiences can trigger its onset in vulnerable teens.
Research shows that bipolar disorder is more common in families with a history of the illness than in those without.
If you or your partner has been diagnosed with this condition, you must be aware that your child may be at increased risk of developing it.
Studies suggest that the brain structure and chemistry of those with bipolar disorder may differ from those without it.
Brain imaging techniques can show changes in gray matter volume, as well as chemical imbalances such as an abnormally low level of serotonin or a high level of dopamine.
Research suggests that certain environmental factors can increase a teen’s risk of developing bipolar disorder.
These include parental alcohol and drug abuse, physical or sexual abuse, emotional trauma, and significant life changes such as divorce or the death of a loved one.
If you’re concerned about your teen exhibiting signs of bipolar disorder, consider consulting a mental health professional to discuss the best course of action.
A bipolar disorder treatment program Los Angeles can provide your teen with the tools and resources needed to manage their condition and live a happy, fulfilling life.
The Risk of Bipolar Disorder In Teens
Although bipolar disorder can be managed with medication and lifestyle changes, it is still a severe mental health condition with considerable risks.
Left untreated, it can lead to impaired functioning at home and school, substance abuse, relationship problems, and even suicide.
You must seek professional help as soon as possible if you suspect your teen may be suffering from bipolar disorder.
Getting treatment can help your child learn how to manage risk factors and live an enjoyable, balanced life.
It’s also important to remember that although bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition, it can be managed with the proper treatment and support.
Your teen does not have to suffer in silence. With the right approach, they can lead happy and fulfilling life.
Reach out to an experienced therapist today to get started on your teen’s journey toward recovery.
How Is Bipolar Disorder Diagnosed?
Bipolar disorder is typically diagnosed by a mental health provider such as a psychologist or psychiatrist.
They will assess your teen’s symptoms and conduct a physical exam to rule out any other possible causes of the condition.
They may also use diagnostic tools like questionnaires and structured interviews to assess your teen’s mental state.
Based on the assessment, they will diagnose bipolar disorder in your teen or another condition.
It is important to remember that accurately diagnosing bipolar disorder takes time.
If your teen’s symptoms match those of bipolar disorder, a mental health professional may recommend initiating treatment before confirming the diagnosis.
This can help minimize symptoms and prevent any further decline in mental health.
How Is Bipolar Disorder Treated?
Bipolar disorder treatment focuses on managing the symptoms and preventing relapses.
The main types of treatment include talk therapy, medication, lifestyle changes, and self-care strategies.
Therapy can help your teen understand their condition, develop healthy coping strategies, and positively manage stress.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the most commonly used type of bipolar disorder treatment.
It helps your teen identify negative thought patterns, challenge them, and replace them with more positive ones.
A psychiatrist may also prescribe medication to treat the symptoms of bipolar disorder.
These medications can help stabilize mood swings and reduce the severity of episodes.
It’s important to remember that medications will not cure bipolar disorder, but they can help manage it in combination with other treatments.
Supportive lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, a healthy diet, and creating routines can also help manage bipolar disorder.
Your teen should try to maintain regular sleep patterns and limit their intake of drugs and alcohol.
These changes can help them stay on track with their treatment plan and lead a more balanced life.
Finally, it’s essential to equip your teen with the necessary self-care strategies to manage their condition.
Encouraging them to practice relaxation techniques such as yoga, deep breathing, and meditation can help reduce stress and promote emotional stability.
They should also be aware of any triggers that may lead to a manic or depressive episode and develop ways to cope with them.
Bipolar disorder can be difficult and overwhelming to manage, but with the right help and support, your teen can lead a happy and fulfilling life.
It’s essential to get professional help as soon as possible to prevent further decline in mental health.
Encourage your teen to seek therapy, take prescribed medications, make lifestyle changes, and develop self-care strategies to manage their condition.
With the right approach, they can get back on track and live a more balanced life.
Try the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 if you think your life is at risk due to the symptoms.