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How to deal with a bipolar child

Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder characterized by episodes of mania and depression. Current research directions for BD in children include optimizing treatments, increasing the knowledge of the genetic and neurobiological basis of the pediatric disorder and improving diagnostic criteria. Let us have a look at a few points how we can deal with children suffering with BD.

Try to understand your child

The first and the foremost step in dealing with a child suffering from a bipolar disorder is to try and understand him. He is not responsible for any of his actions and he should not be punished for reasons beyond his knowledge. One more thing you should know is, he is not faking it. It is his natural tendency to react in that way since he is suffering from maniac depression. Any punishments to the child may further complicate the matter. Hence proper care must be taken in this direction.

Another problem is that although we have proper medication for dealing with this problem, children under 17 years cannot take them. So, the only way for children under 12 in whom the problem is very difficult to identify and for children between 12 and 17 should be always looked after carefully. The parent must constantly try and make the child realize ‘when’ and ‘how’ those episodes of mania and depression are occurring in him.

Identify the cause

It’s not necessarily a disorder that requires therapy as there’s no circumstantial cause; no external forces. But don’t be deceived, circumstances often do accentuate or enhance the particular effects of bipolarism. In other words, if they’re having ‘one of those days’ that they have tremendous anger problems, a seemingly minor inconvenience can be multiplied many times greater than it ought to be. The same goes with extreme happiness and sadness.


The best thing to do is to allow them to become consciously aware of the problem, without doing so in a condemning or guilt-ridded fashion. The disorder isn’t their fault, it’s an unfortunate imbalance. There again, attempt this while also seeking a SAFE medication that will help balance the mindsets/moodswings out. Strong meds are not suggested, (i.e. Lithium, Xanax, Klonipin ) as most of these can become addictive at least mentally, if not physically.


The main consideration in a bipolar medication for a young person is that it does carry the side-effect “may cause suicidal thoughts/tendencies” like Prozac or Zoloft, which have been known to do such.

Basically the only way to cope with bipolar is by being on meds. This could take a while to get it right. The average med takes 2-8 weeks to fully get to therpudic levels in the body. Therpudic level is the amount of medicine built up in the body to properly treat the bipolar disorder. So, if your child is on meds, and is still having problems, you should visit your doc.

Be patient

And finally, under no circumstances, I emphasize no circumstances, do you allow them to use their condition as an excuse or scapegoat as this would absolve them of responsibility for their actions (not their thoughts, only their actions). Even though their mood isn’t necessarily under their complete control, their actions can be.

All in all, giving all your love, all your patience, all your understanding, and lots of listening time is what is most important. Having a strong social structure can bring solidity to a child who doesn’t feel stable. It can be the difference between a healthy life and a tragic one. It’s going to be difficult at times but you have to remain patient and understanding because it’s easy to give up or to push too hard and end up on the wrong side of the mood swing.

Things to be kept in mind

The child must get medical attention if his mental health is critical. Consult a qualified mental health professional or crisis intervention specialist, especially if the child is in the midst of a manic or depressive episode. Comprehensive medical, social and psychological evaluation is must for the child. Ongoing encouragement and support from friends and family are also very important. It may be helpful to join a self-help or support group to help those coping with this illness. Ask about, evaluate, and address any suicidal, self harming or dangerous behavior.

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