Helping Your Adolescent with Bipolar Disorder
Mood swings are often considered a normal part of adolescence – just ask any parent with one or more teenagers at home. However, the so-called “normal” teenage mood swings are actually quite different from the intense mood swings of bipolar disorder. Formerly referred to as “manic-depressive disorder”, bipolar disorder is a serious, lifelong psychiatric illness. Although onset frequently occurs in early adulthood, it can also develop in childhood or adolescence.
As a parent, it can be challenging to determine what’s normal and what’s not when it comes to your teen’s emotional health. This brief guide is designed to help you know the signs to watch for and the steps to take if you believe your teen may have bipolar disorder.
Adolescent Bipolar Disorder Statistics
Some people have the misperception that bipolar disorder only affects adults, not an illness that can develop in childhood or adolescence. However, symptoms can and often do first appear during the teen years. Following are a few statistics and survey results regarding adolescent bipolar disorder:
- Approximately 1 in 5 teens who have major depression will develop bipolar disorder within 5 years (of the onset of their depressive episode)
- A 2012 NIMH-funded survey of over 10,000 teens between the ages of 13 and 18 found that 2.2% met the criteria for bipolar disorder within a given year
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