Home > Behavioural Disorders > Bipolar Disorder/Manic Depression

Bipolar Disorder/Manic Depression

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 2 Jan 2017 | comments*Discuss
Manic Depression bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder is also known as Manic Depression. Children living with Bipolar Disorder suffer from extraordinary changes in their moods (from the manic to the depressed), energy levels (again, from the manic to the depressed), thinking and behaviour. Until recently there were few diagnoses of Bipolar Disorder made in children, but today’s mental health professionals recognise that even very young children can suffer from Bipolar Disorder.

Signs and Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
The marked characteristic of Bipolar Disorder is changes in both mood and energy levels from the manic (high energy and elation) to the depressed (low energy and sadness). Children often experience these changes quickly so that their moods, energy levels and behaviours all seem to fall into chronic cycles. Children may also engage in rages of anger, apathy or disinterest in play, cravings for sweets, bed wetting, nightmares and/or night terrors, impulsivity, hallucinations and more. Not all children affected by Bipolar Disorder will display all of these signs and symptoms, and some may display a mixture.

Diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar Disorder must be officially diagnosed by a qualified child mental health professional. There are no separate criteria for diagnosing Bipolar Disorder in children, so for a formal diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder children must meet the adult criteria. These criteria include that an episode of mania must last for at least one week, though some professionals accept four days. It can be very difficult to distinguish manic and depressive episodes in children, so often a consistent cycle of greater and lesser moods and energy levels is observed instead.

Treatment of Bipolar Disorder
There is no cure for Bipolar Disorder, but a solid treatment plan can help manage the symptoms to the point that daily life is minimally or undisturbed. Counselling and family counselling may be advised, and medicine may be offered as well. In children, monitoring symptoms and reactions to a treatment plan as they grow and develop is essential. Bipolar Disorder is an extremely disruptive disorder, so treatment plans often take a holistic approach and take into account the input of the child, parents and other involved adults such as teachers and tutors.

Living with Bipolar Disorder
Relatives and friends of children diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder can have a major impact on the continued success of treatment for this disorder. Providing love, support and acceptance, offering verbal encouragement, serving a healthy diet and engaging in regular exercise are all things that others can do to support children with Bipolar Disorder. Keeping regular bed times and sleeping hours are also important for children, though children with Bipolar Disorder may not feel tired during manic episodes and may feel overly tired during depressive episodes. With such support at home, the effects of Bipolar Disorder on daily family life should be reduced.

Bipolar Disorder, or Manic Depression as it is also known, is a disorder characterised by highly energetic manic episodes and low energy depressive episodes. Bipolar Disorder affects both adults and children, but there are not set guidelines for diagnosing Bipolar Disorder in children so they must meet the adult diagnostic criteria. Parents interested in learning more about Bipolar Disorder/Manic Depression, should consult with a GP or qualified child mental health professional for further information that pertains to their specific situation.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Hi What do i do to get my 12 yr old son the correct diagnosis when his child psychiatrist at CAMHS won't listen to what my son is behaving like when at home etc. My son reported to her that he hears voices and she just dismissed this causing my son to refuse point blank to speak to her again. She then makes her diagnosis going off my sons abrupt replies to any questions asked and his now denial of hearing voices etc he just wanted out of her office. I have requested a 2nd opinion as she initiallydiagnosed my son with ADHD then with anxiety disorder & then with depression!!.. Since age 3 yrs old my son has been expelled from mainstream school and age8 ended up in special referral units until beginning of December 2016 whereby my son is being home schooled. (He cannot get along with other kids & is alone majority of the time) My son has symptoms of bi-polar. His father and his sister also suffer with bi-polar (both recently diagnosed) and my sons psychiatrist dismissed this fact. I stressed to her that i don't believe she can come to any kind of diagnosis going off my son's half hearted answers and not taking on board exactly what is going on at home/in school/outdoors etc, and i then requested a 2nd opinion. She suggested seeing one of her colleagues but i believe any diagnosis wouldbe biased. Can i request my son be seen by a consultant at another CAMHS ? My sons behaviour is getting much worse and it's both heartbreaking & so hard to get him the right help. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Happy New Year 2017
FuzzyOnion - 2-Jan-17 @ 3:59 PM
Hi guys I bet I'm to late as this thread was a while ago! I'm a 32 year old mum who has bipolar!I never thought about my son having the condition Simply because his moods are so regular Therefore I can go months without having a manic episode I have begged the school for help. My father is a teacher and has fostered many kids from troubled backgrounds, He noticed that there was something wrong at aged 4. I took him to the GP and was asked to bring Bailey back at approx age 8. I battled with the primary school and it took them 5 years to say he may have dyslexia but after he was suspended from primary camhs agreed to do an assessment for ADHD! They never got back to me. So Bailey was due to go to big school in September 2015 and I Got in touch with his new school and begged them for help. Anyway Bailey started that schoo and to cut a long story short he has been suspended 3x for hurting children, he was on video beating a poor child up The school told me that Bailey would be asked to leave if this continued !!! It broke my heart and I begged them 4 help but as soon as I mentioned there was something wrong they told me that his behaviour wasn't that bad !!! Hang on a minute ? Just how bad does things have to get ? They told me that Bailey had many yellow cards for distracting others in class but th yellow cards hadn't turned into many red ones !!! But Bailey can go 2 weeks without seen that teacher, if he was in the same class 24/7 Then I would buy that one but he has a 2 weekly time table and from what I have seen, I can see he has been given a yellow card for been noisy and disruptive in maths and gone straight into science and earned another yellow one for the same thing! But because he hasn't got as many red they think this is good They are so condradictory as on one hand I am sent letters to advise me that my little boys behaviour is unacceptable and on the other hand it's not that bad !!!!! Oh yes I called school last week after he was given another detention and the teacher asked me if the police had been to see me? I was horrified. He explained that Bailey and two others had damaged his property on the way home from school And it was Bailey because he wanted revenge for th teacher been nasty !!!! Just how bad does he need to get !!! It didn't once occur to me until lately that it might be bipolar However I have done some reading and Bailey fits the bill perfectly Adults can go 12 months without a change in mood but children can flip from one to the other in a heartbeat. I've been back in touch with camhs and they said that they sent me an appointment I never received this appointment So they are going to see about sending another but there is a 12 week wait She mentioned that they wouldn't be able to look at bipolar in a 12 year old !!!!!! Did you guys have any luck ??????
Hayley83 - 30-Mar-16 @ 7:27 PM
@person. Is there someone else you trust who you can talk to? You really need to share how you're feeling with someone who can help. There are lots of organisations with helplines and support groups specifically for young people like you. Try:
Young Minds
KidsBehaviour - 13-May-15 @ 1:53 PM
Um hi I am 12 and I think I have depression and I don't know how to cope. Been self harming and had suicidal thoughts lately. Hope somebody can help. I don't want my parents to know.
Person - 8-May-15 @ 1:49 PM
@Rebecca. We really hope that CAMHS can help you. If he is diagnosed as bipolar or with some other mental illness, then there is plenty that can be done with medicines etc to keep him on a level and ease your mind.
KidsBehaviour - 9-Feb-15 @ 11:00 AM
I realise that the posts here ate from 2012 but pray someone hears me. Shellie, you've described exactly what my son does ... to the last detail! I feel like we're on a train with no breaks. We have child psychiatrist appt with CAMHS on Monday 9th Feb, he's just going back to school today following a 2 day exclusion ... He's 8yrs old. The school and I are keeping post its of all the suicidal things he is saying and despite exclusions they are being supportive but they are now almost as exhausted as I am. He's such a lovely boy but there are two of him and even he talks about the 'other him' any advice.......?
Rebecca - 4-Feb-15 @ 8:40 AM
I have recently been diagnosed with Bipolar at the age of 36. Up until then, from the age of 7-8 I had been treated for depression although I kept saying it was something different. I have a 4yr old boy who is showing signs of Bipolar and we are struggling to get any health proffesionals or school teacher to take our concerns seriously. We have regular meetings with school and are waiting for a follow up appointment with a piediatric doctor. I'm so worried that he won't get the help he needs. I don't want him to get the wrong diagnosis and then have to struggle as I did. We are all really struggling and I feel as though I am letting my son down. Can anyone give us further advice or pointers on what steps we can take please, thank you.
Sme - 23-May-13 @ 8:36 PM
hi, i have a boy of 5 nearly 6 and from the age of 2 his behaviour has been well not the best , i am in a battle and banging my head its to the point i am so strssed and down with it .My son has no respect for anyone he is so live we tried to get him seen by the pedsfor ADHD but because he can control it in school , the dont wanna no , and its parenting i have try everythink charts the lot and nothing works its all one big game for him. im now starting to think it bipolar but im scared to do any think due to the nhs not wanting to no and with not havingany fight left in me . can anyone helpwith some advice' thanxs
ravingrach - 22-Feb-13 @ 3:38 PM
Hi stressed mum, just wondered where you are based.........thinking of trying to set up some kind of movement for change!! I went to a meeting last night where various parents with additional needs children attended to make comments on CAHMs with regard to improving services.I put my point across that whilst my experience of CAHMs has been good and they are at least open to my insistance that my daughter has bipolar disorder, they have no knowledge or experience of child bd, let alone recognise the signs and they need to get up to date with current knowledge onthe condition and accept that medication is crucial.for what is a highly treatable condition if they would only identify it early enough.If you have one episode and get appropriate treatment you are unlikely to ever have another.Once you have had 3 or more episodes the condition becomes far more difficult to treat.I think it amounts to neglect!!Me and my uncle who both have the condition would have had very different lives if only the system hadn't let us down for decades.I know what you mean about learned behaviour.....I have told them again and again that many people with bp disorder believe that they were BORN with it.....not predisposed to it and then some stressful event triggered it, but born with it, therefore upbringing has nothing to do with it .Stress can make it worse, but doesn't stress do that for any situation??I just think that episodes can be a consequence of stress rather than a cause. Also I have episodes for absolutely no reason whatsoever. I am determined to change the perception of these so-called experts as well as that of the general public.The first thing they said to me when I told them that my daughter has bd was has there been trauma in her life.This would insinuate that the condition is psychological, (and possibly down to me and my parenting) when in fact it is physical.Children and adults who have it are no different to anyone else outside of episodes. I so sympathise with your predicament.How are relatives around you reacting to your views?I have shied away from telling my parents, although they do know that she is seeing CAHMs.One thing that might be of help to you....90% of children with bd also fit the criteria for ADHD.(those with ADHD who fit the criteria for bd don't have ADHD!!)Since CAHMs have agreed to take me down that road, I thought that at the very least it gets my daughter into the system, will at least help her in some respects and then I can continue to battle for the real diagnosis from then on. Keep in touch and let me know how you're getting on.....how long has your son being seeing CAMHs? best wishes
boo2004boo - 6-Dec-12 @ 11:51 PM
Hi, I just wondered if anybody could tell me about any child psychiatrists in the UK who understand and are willing to diagnose bipolar disorder in children? many thanks
boo2004boo - 2-Oct-12 @ 5:58 PM
Hi brave mum, I tried to email you on that address that you left, but it pinged back as delivery failure.... Please get in touch...would love to chat..... I hope all went well with the assessment best wishes, boo2004boo x
boo2004boo - 26-Sep-12 @ 4:35 PM
Hi Chillisue, I am so sorry that it has taken me so long to reply...I have just been explaining to another lovely lady that posted on here that I never really expected anyone to reply to my posting so I never actually bothered looking until today.Please let me know what happened with your private assessment....I truly hope it went well for your sake and of course for your son.I had the appointment with CAMHs last week and the lady we saw was lovely and didn't rule out bipolar disorder but just said that it was just one explanation on the table so to speak, but of course she could just be humouring me....they are going to assess my daughter over a number of weeks....she did say that bipolar disorder is caused by trauma though so that makes me query what her knowledge of the condition is....Although I have only had the condition diagnosed in the last two months I can trace it back to childhood but I didn't have any trauma....it is however made worse by stress, but then again what illness isn't???If I don't get the diagnosis I will also go privately...I do not want my daughter to go through what I had to go through for decades, unknowingly and untreated.And if I don't get appropriate therapy AND MEDICATION in the form of mood stabilisers then I will take it as high as I possibly can.....maybe we need to group together to change things!!!I am happy to be a trail blazer....No-one questions that ADHD is a childlhood condition and prescribes ritalin or similar to correct the low level of dopamine, yet children with bipolar disorder are neither recognised nor given appropriate medication to correct the imbalance.I think it is an utter disgrace.Like you, it is not that I want to medicate my child unnessarily but I know the dire consequences of leaving the illness untreated, the least of which is isolation, poor school reports etc., but the worst of which doesn't bare thinking about...and I am not prepared to take that risk....I really hope all is good with you, best wishes boo2004boo.....I would love to hear back from you....maybe we could swap email addresses...
boo2004boo - 26-Sep-12 @ 12:00 AM
Hi, not sure where to start really, Just before my youngest son turned seven i started to notice emotional changes in his behaviour however it wasnt anything to severe and my husband never noticed anything however my son is nearlly eight and in the last year his behaviour has changed dramatically. My son has episodes of sadness, lack of selfworth, he has told me in detail how he has died (very upsetting to hear) very little confidence if any, lack of social skills, clingy, quiet, sleeps a lot. On the other hand he can be loud, lies a lot, sleeps little, has nightmares, can be aggressive with his dad (fighting), excess energy, talks constantly, has spoke about hearing voices. My self and husband have tried to get him help firstly via the doctor who referred us to the hospital who then reffered us to a behaviouralist. The behaviouralist never met my son and believed my son was generally playing up. She did a one off 20 minute visit to my sons school to observer him which angered me as how can you have anything to compare to with just one 20 minute visit?????? We have been now been released from the behaviouralist, her opinion is my son is playing up and my have some anxiety. We have spoke to my sons school numerous times explaining how at times he refuses to go to school but they say the oposite. The school has said my sons accedemic progress is exceptional, nothing seems to add up!!!! I know my son inside and out and i know something is wrong i just dont know what and all i want is some expert advice and help for my son but i am constantly made to feel like i am an over protective parent whos over reacting. Frustration is an understantement. If anybody can give me some advice or just some support (somebody to talk to who understands) i would be very grateful.
Shellie - 21-Aug-12 @ 3:42 PM
Hi boo2004boo My son is 13 and I started noticing difficulty keeping still and consentrating at around age 8, by the time he was 11 he had gone from a very outdoor kind of boy always on the go loads of friends, to a total recluse very withdrawn from being trendy and concerned with his appearance to total lack of hygiene or what he looked like shortly after he started to have very rapid changes in mood extreme hysteria to sobbing uncontrollably, rages that are quite scary to witness, he started to self harm has auditory and visual hallucinations is paranoid grandiose, he lies very convincingly he can't sleep or sleeps for hours has loads of energy or none there is more but you get the picture. He has been under camhs for 2 years they refuse to diagnose bi polar as they say he is to young he is on Arapriprazole and fluoxetine but these meds are not really helping the antidepressant makes him manic and the dose of Arapriprazole is not high enough as he is still psychotic, Even though camhs has seen and documented all the things ive listed abovethey still say its not old enough to have bi polar, yet they are not assessing for anything else ? In the meantime my son is getting worse he's received no beneficial help from them so I have had to go private we are presently waiting for the results of his assessment and will have his diagnosis in 2 weeks pretty amazing since like I said we have been going round in circles for the past two years with camhs. I hope that you have a better response from camhs than I did but if you feel your getting no where and they are fobbing you off there is this option available. Camhs have tried to make me out to be an awful mother who just wants to label her son and put him on drugs, when the reality is I love my son very much and I just want him getting the correct support and intervention and the medication that is best for him, to enable him to have the best life chances. I would love to hear from you and how you get on and I truely hope you have smoother ride than I have as there is enough to deal with at home without this ongoing battle with the people who are supposed to be helping Take care and no matter what they tell you you know your child best
Chillisue - 14-Aug-12 @ 11:06 AM
hi boo2004boo, i know exacly what you are talking about,i would like to get in touch with you privatly to talk about our kids and bipolar disorder,as you are from uk .i was thinking to take my kids for an assestment there , so please contact me atfbaptista@edsolutions.ae thanks , hope to hear from you soon.
brave mum - 10-Jul-12 @ 7:59 PM
I'm totally in fog with my 12 yr old son who has bipolar & is in an inpatient unit. Please get in touch
chaz - 2-Jul-12 @ 3:23 PM
I have Bipolar II disorder.It has been identified in our family and I can personally trace it back to when I was about 5/6/7 years of age.I self-diagnosed and have spent the last year trying to get it correctly diagnosed.I have finally been referred to a specialist clinic and am awaiting an appointment. The reason I have written the above is that I know my child and I know that she has also inherited bipolar II disorder.She has just turned 8.Since coming to this realisation I have discussed her condition with her and it has completely transformed our relationship.She is very bright and completely understands and recognises these moods that can overwhelm her, but she can now be totally herself without having to 'hide' these ups and downs and trusts me....particularly with regard to advice and techniques for trying to manage these moods. The school have been utterly fantastic and a lightbulb moment occured in them all when I finally told them what I 100% believe (know) her to have and they said it explained everything as up until then she had been a total conundrum to them.The GP is also trying to help and refer my daughter to CAMH. The problem is that as far as I know only one child under the age of 10 has ever been given a diagnosis of bipolar disorder in the UK.As mentioned on this site, the DMS criteria is lacking even when it comes to adult diagnoses as it allows many people to fall through the net who never even realise that they have bipolar disorder (particularly the case with bipolar II) and others it takes on average 10 years to get a diagnosis, after 4 so-called medical professionals and it regularly gets misdiagnosed.So since 1. the adult criteria is so useless 2. the symptoms in children are not quite the same as for adults anyway (I am an expert here with over 40 years personal experience of the condition!) 3. the guidelines actually state that bipolar II should not be diagnosed in children and finally, 4.doctors and psychiatrists in this country are not very knowledgable regarding the condition or very willing or able to recognise it in adutlts let alone children, I just wondered if anybody else has had a primary school child diagnosed or is trying to achieve this or even believes that their child may have bipolar disorder.... Just to let you know....you are not alone....there are others out here struggling with an uphill battle.....but also to let you know that it is a progressive disease and the prognosis is worse dependent on the: earlier the age of onset the longer it goes untreated the greater the number of 'episodes' so getting a 'label' is crucial in order to get the correct treatment and not be fobbed off with the accusation that it is just behavioural problems (generally down to your bad parenting...naturally!!) that need addressing or it is ADHD....for which your child will be given ritalin which makes bipolar disorder infinitely worse... would be great to talk to anyone else
boo2004boo - 12-Jun-12 @ 11:32 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • lou lou
    Re: Major Depressive Disorder
    hi my name is lauren gregg I have learning disabilities but I think that with children with the ADHD problem they need to understand…
    29 March 2017
  • Little Mix
    Re: Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
    My 8 year old son is very difficult. he is diagnosed with ADHD and certainly displays the symptoms, but he is also very…
    24 March 2017
  • Little Mix
    Re: Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
    My 8 year old son is very difficult. he is diagnosed with ADHD and certainly displays the symptoms, but he is also very…
    24 March 2017
  • Little Mix
    Re: Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
    My 8 year old son is very difficult. he is diagnosed with ADHD and certainly displays the symptoms, but he is also very…
    23 March 2017
  • Little Mix
    Re: Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
    My 8 year old son is very difficult. he is diagnosed with ADHD and certainly displays the symptoms, but he is also very…
    19 March 2017
  • Nuttynats
    Re: Attachment Disorders in Children
    My 7 year old granddaughter has recently been diagnosed with attachment disorder and I'm so very upset about how this comes…
    7 March 2017
  • Jen
    Re: Questionnaire: Does Your Child Have ADHD?
    My son is 10, I split from his dad when he was 2. I also have a 16yr old daughter to whom in very close to. My…
    7 March 2017
  • KidsBehaviour
    Re: Child Anxiety Disorders
    Katrina - Your Question:Hi, my daughter now 10 was born at 29 weeks gestation with 2 areas of brain damage. We was told we wouldn't know…
    2 March 2017
  • Katrina
    Re: Child Anxiety Disorders
    Hi, my daughter now 10 was born at 29 weeks gestation with 2 areas of brain damage. We was told we wouldn't know how this would effect…
    1 March 2017
  • hayley0902
    Re: Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
    My son ain't long turned 8 in August ,I just don't no what to do any more e was kicked out is old school then come to a…
    1 March 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the KidsBehaviour website. Please read our Disclaimer.