What is Bipolar Disorder in Children and Teens?

By  ,  National Institute of Health
Feb 23, 2012
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All parents can relate to the many changes their kids go through as they grow up. But sometimes it's hard to tell if a child is just going through a "phase," or perhaps showing signs of something more serious.


Recently, doctors have been diagnosing more children with bipolar disorder, sometimes called manic-depressive illness. But what does this illness really mean for a child?

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood and energy. It can also make it hard for someone to carry out day-to-day tasks, such as going to school or hanging out with friends. Symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe. They are different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through from time to time. They can result in damaged relationships, poor school performance, and even suicide. But bipolar disorder can be treated, and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives.


Bipolar disorder often develops in a person's late teens or early adult years, but some people have their first symptoms during childhood. At least half of all cases start before age.

 

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