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Recognize Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder in Children and How to Manage It

Although it may rarely be heard, bipolar disorder in children can occur. This condition is important to be treated as early as possible because it can affect growth and development. Therefore, let's understand the symptoms of bipolar disorder in children and how to handle it.

Bipolar disorder is characterized by drastic changes in mood, sleep patterns, and the ability to think. This disorder is more commonly found in the age before adulthood. But in some cases, bipolar disorder can also occur in children and adolescents.

Until now, the exact cause of the occurrence of bipolar disorder in children has not been known with certainty. Hereditary factors and abnormalities in the brain structure of children are thought to play a role in increasing the risk of bipolar appearance in children.

Characteristics of Bipolar Disorders in Children

In general, children who suffer from bipolar disorder will experience two psychological phases in their daily lives, namely the manic phase (carefree) and the depressive phase (sad). This makes him sometimes look very happy, active, have many ideas, but suddenly become very sad, reluctant to move, even to shut himself up.

Bipolar children who are in the manic phase can behave as follows:

  • It looks like more energy than usual.
  • Behave aggressively and impatiently.
  • Won't sleep.
  • Talk quickly.
  • Difficult to concentrate.
  • Feeling more important than others around him.

While the depressive phase in children with bipolar disorder can be characterized by several symptoms or changes in behavior, such as:

  • Look tired, listless, have no energy, and lose interest in activities.
  • Difficult to concentrate when studying, which results in decreased achievement in school.
  • Feel sad, worried, anxious, and more irritable.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • There is a desire to commit suicide.

Read Also : Emotional Eating: When Emotions Affect Your Appetite

The transition between the manic phase and depression in bipolar children can occur in one day, even repeatedly. In between these two phases or often called the transition period, your child can behave normally as usual.

If behavior changes occur quickly, some parents might think of it as mood swings. However, the existence of a phase when your little one behaves normally, followed by a drastic difference between the manic and depressive phases is key for you as a parent to recognize the possibility of bipolar disorder in your child.

The cause of bipolar disorder could be due to hereditary/genetic factors. Some sufferers experience it due to the way parents treated him when he was a child. In other words, parents can be the cause of children experiencing bipolar disorder.

What actions should we avoid so that the child does not experience bipolar disorder?

1. Too protect

We all don't want children to be hurt, so we try to protect it as much as possible. We forbid him to play with a neighbor's child for fear of catching a cold.

We forbid him to learn to swim for fear of drowning, even though he wanted to be able to swim.

Protecting children is indeed a parent's obligation, but you can't be by his side forever. Protecting too many children will make them lose their ability to survive when faced with problems.

2. Give a label

"Stupid". Have you ever said this to a child when you are upset? If yes, stop it now. Words like that will make a child's self-esteem fall and lose confidence.

Many people with bipolar disorder do wrong things because they cannot respect themselves.

3. Leaving child

Parents do have to work to support their children. But the sudden departure of parents for a long time can make a child shaken. For example, suddenly assigned in another city, or edited.

There is no harm in talking to children first before leaving for work. Do it, even though the child may not understand what you are saying.

4. Fighting in front of the child

Fighting with a partner in front of a child, especially one that occurs continuously, hurts a child's feelings. Especially if it leads to divorce. This has all been a traumatic experience that children remember into adulthood.

It can be difficult for children to find a life partner as an adult because of their feelings for the opposite sex change. Also, not many men and women can stand the behavior of people with bipolar disorder.

5. Violence

Child abuse can be physical or verbal abuse. Children who are often beaten, hurt, have the potential to suffer from bipolar disorder.

Similarly, children who are yelled at too often can experience this disorder as well.

6. Scolding children without reason

Feeling bored because the boss gives a lot of work without overtime pay? Upset because your husband gives so little spending money? Sometimes we err and vent our anger on children. Either by snapping or pushing his body.

'Sprayed' because guilty can make a child sad. Especially if he was scolded for something he did not do. Throughout the day, maybe for the rest of his life, he will change his mood at will. It does not matter right, because right or wrong he still scolded.

7. Unstable emotions

Bipolar disorder can indeed be inherited genetically in the next generation. Even if you don't have the bipolar syndrome, your child is still at risk of developing this disorder if your emotions are often unstable. Either because of PMS or baby blues syndrome.

Management of Bipolar Disorders in Children

Bipolar management in children aims to reduce symptoms and stabilize the child's mood. Handling is not only done by psychiatrists but also by parents, family members, as well as teachers and other people who often interact with your child.

There are two methods of handling bipolar disorder in children that can be done, namely through drugs and psychotherapy.

Giving drugs is done to stabilize the child's mood. As a parent, you must ensure that your child takes the medicine regularly. While psychotherapy is done to help children understand their condition, the emotional changes they will experience, and teach them communication techniques when experiencing bipolar episodes.

Children with bipolar disorder need long-term treatment. Recognize the initial symptoms that can be experienced by children with bipolar disorder and treatment options that can be done, if you are confused, take advantage of child psychology consulting services at the hospital. Early recognition and proper handling will help the child to continue to be able to do activities like other children.



  1. Rowland, T. Marwaha, S. (2018). Epidemiology and Risk Factors For Bipolar Disorder. Ther Adv Psychopharmacol.
  2. Holland, K. Nicholls, E. Healthline (2018). Everything You Need to Know about Bipolar Disorder.
  3. Lyness, D. Kids Health (2015). Bipolar Disorder.

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