Teen Bipolar Disorder
Teen Bipolar Disorder (or Manic Depressive Illness) is a brain disorder that causes unusually extreme shifts in mood, energy levels, and every day functioning. These shifts are much more prominent than the basic ups and downs that all people experience. Because the swings can be so extreme and unpredictable, teen bipolar disorder can cause difficulty concentrating and performing at work or in school, tension in relationships, and a loss of hope and direction, sometimes even leading to suicidal thoughts and/or attempts. Teen bipolar disorder treatment refers to the process of treating bipolar disorder in teens through counseling and medications.
What Teen Bipolar Disorder Looks Like
The most prominent symptoms are the up and down wave-like mood swings that define the disorder. These highs and lows are called “mood episodes.” The “highs,” characterized by extremely high energy and often, extreme excitement and happiness, constitute a manic episode. Symptoms of manic episodes can include: irritability, inability to focus, restlessness, not sleeping and not being tired, impulsive and/or risky behavior, and quickly transitioning from one thing to the next. The “lows,” characterized by overwhelming sadness and hopelessness, constitute a depressive episode. The symptoms of a depressive episode can include: apathy, loss of desire, inability to concentrate, a sense of sluggishness, irritability, loss of appetite, and suicidal thoughts and/or attempts. It’s important to note that these symptoms can vary quickly, and therefore, a person can experience symptoms anywhere along the “spectrum” of these two extremes, or even experience both at the same time, which is called a “mixed state.”
Bipolar I Disorder
Characterized by severe manic or mixed episodes, usually lasting somewhere between 7-14 days. Because of the severity, people diagnosed with Bipolar I have often been hospitalized, arrested, or both, during an episode.
Bipolar II Disorder
Characterized by a person going from a relative high to a depressive low, but not experiencing a fully manic episode. These people may have strong shifts in mood but usually do not experience the more prolonged and extreme behaviors of a manic episode.
Rapid Cycling Disorder
Characterized by patients experiencing manic and depressive episodes at least four times in the same year.
Mixed Episode Bipolar Disorder
Characterized by a patient experiencing manic and depressive states at the same time, and/or alternating very quickly between them.
Characterized by slower shifts within states and episodes, carried out over a person’s lifetime.
Teen Bipolar Disorder Treatment
Where To Start
The first step is asking for help. People with Bipolar Disorder often need immediate professional help, especially considering the extreme lows can cause risk of suicidal thoughts. The most successful teen bipolar disorder treatment lies in a combination of medication and counseling, but of course treatment looks different for each individual. The first step toward treatment is an evaluation with a psychiatrist to determine what kind of treatment best suits you, as well as helping explain to you what you’re experiencing, which can be a powerful and comforting first step, in and of itself.
Ultimately, the medication for teen bipolar disorder treatment helps to take the edge off the extremity of the highs and lows, while helping to provide more balance and steady moods overall. These medications are called “mood stabilizers,” and are not designed to make a patient numb to emotions, but rather, to return to experiencing emotions on a moderate level. Doctors will also prescribe medication to help treat a person’s specific current symptoms, either depressive or manic, as well as help prevent any future extreme episodes.
Counseling is a powerful resource for people with Bipolar Disorder, in providing them with people to talk to regarding their experiences of the episodes. Counselors help people learn to navigate their experiences, and learn how to separate their feelings from their behaviors. All of these things help a person to get back to living a “normal” life and returned sense of emotional balance, as soon as possible.
What’s going to happen?
Unfortunately, no one (including us) can tell you what’s going to happen now, or in years to come. But the good news is, regardless of what the future holds, you’re no longer wrestling with it alone. Beginning treatment for Bipolar Disorder is a process that involves many questions and takes time, but there’s good reason to hope that you’re going to start feeling better soon and continue to improve, with time.
Is there a cure?
When it comes to Bipolar, the best science has to offer is treatment of the symptoms, but there doesn’t yet exist a permanent cure. That being said, it’s hopeful and likely that a combination of medication and counseling will have quick, powerful, and lasting effects on your mood, state of being, and overall outlook and experience of life. There’s not yet a cure, but there is hope.