When becoming a parent, there’s no definitive cure-all solution for the complexities of mental health; this is especially true as it relates to teenagers with bipolar disorder. There are a plethora of mental health disorders that could all have an impact on a person’s quality of life. As a parent, it’s difficult to watch your child go through all of that and feel powerless to stop it (or at least help).
The good news is it’s not impossible to help your teen. At Ridge RTC, we want to assist parents with struggling teens navigate through this tumultuous time. Our aim is to foster a nurturing, empathetic environment where their teens feel seen, understood, and loved in all their complexity. If you are having trouble dealing with your teen at home, we offer teen bipolar treatment that can change you and your teen’s life.
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. Bipolar disorder is also sometimes known as manic-depressive illness. This is because those who suffer from bipolar disorder range from periods of ups and downs. To elaborate further, their behavior ranges from elated and energized behavior (manic episodes) to sad or hopeless periods (depressive episodes).
Less severe manic periods are known as hypomanic episodes. The exact cause of bipolar disorder isn’t known; a combination of genetics, environment, altered brain structure, and chemistry may play a role. It’s a condition that requires lifelong management, and treatment often involves a combination of medications and psychotherapy.
Understanding bipolar disorder is imperative for parents of teens who suffer from the mental illness. When a person really understands bipolar disorder, they can recognize the signs and symptoms. This is important because it allows individuals to be diagnosed early; this can significantly improve the long-term prognosis of those with bipolar disorder.
Additionally, understanding bipolar disorder also allows individuals to approach it from a non-judgmental perspective. There is an unhealthy stigma when it comes to mental health disorders. The more people seek to understand those with bipolar disorder, the easier it will be to get them help. At the end of the day, people want to be understood more than anything; they also want to feel safe.
Bipolar disorder is characterized by periods of unusually intense emotion, changes in sleep patterns and activity levels, and unusual behaviors. These distinct periods are known as mood episodes; mood episodes are drastically different from the moods and behaviors that are typical for the person.
As previously mentioned, symptoms can include feeling overly joyful or over-excited (manic episodes) or feeling sad and hopeless (depressive episodes). Other symptoms may include difficulty in concentrating, feeling tired or slow, or having problems with sleep, appetite, or weight. It’s important to remember that these symptoms can vary from person to person, and should always be diagnosed by a professional.
Is Recognizing the Signs of Bipolar Disorder in Teens Important?
Recognizing the signs of bipolar disorder in teenagers is of the utmost importance. Early detection and intervention can mitigate the disruptive and potentially harmful effects of this condition on a young person’s life.
Teens with undiagnosed bipolar disorder may struggle academically, socially, and personally; this has the potential to lead to self-destructive behaviors and even suicide in severe cases. Prompt identification enables timely treatment, which can drastically improve the teen’s quality of life. This could help them manage symptoms and lead a healthier, more balanced life.
Bipolar disorder is a complex condition with multiple factors contributing to its onset. It’s generally understood to be caused by a combination of genetics, environmental factors, and altered brain structure and chemistry. Genetic factors are believed to be significant since bipolar disorder tends to run in families.
Environmental factors such as chronic stress or traumatic experiences can also trigger its onset. Additionally, differences in the brain’s neurotransmitter systems and structure have been observed in people with bipolar disorder. This indicates a neurobiological basis for bipolar disorder.
Bipolar Disorder or Typical Teenage Behavior?
Distinguishing between typical teen behavior and symptoms of bipolar disorder can be challenging. Given the similar characteristics, such as mood swings and a desire for independence, deciphering where the overlap ends is difficult.
Bipolar disorder, however, often involves more severe shifts in mood, energy, and functioning. This may manifest in extreme euphoria followed by depressive episodes. These fluctuations go beyond the normative teenage angst and could significantly impair a teen’s life. Parents and educators must understand these differences and seek professional mental health consultation when necessary.
What are the Different Types of Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is commonly divided into three main types: Bipolar I disorder, Bipolar II disorder, and Cyclothymic disorder. Bipolar I is characterized by at least one manic episode, which may be preceded or followed by hypomanic or major depressive episodes. In contrast, Bipolar II disorder involves at least one major depressive episode and one hypomanic episode, but no full manic episodes.
Cyclothymic disorder, or cyclothymia, is a milder form of bipolar disorder, involving numerous periods of hypomanic symptoms and depressive symptoms lasting for at least two years (one year in children and adolescents). These variations in bipolar disorder entail different patterns of mood swings and behaviors, each requiring personalized treatment approaches.
Do Most People Know Whether or Not They Have Bipolar Disorder?
Many individuals with bipolar disorder remain undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for years. Despite the severe impact it can have on a person’s life, recognizing the symptoms can be challenging. This is due in large part to their cyclical nature and overlap with other conditions.
While some might experience distinct periods of depression and mania, others might not discern these drastic shifts. Because of this, it’s imperative that those who believe they suffer from bipolar disorder seek help from mental health professionals.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, bipolar disorder affects approximately 2.8% of the U.S. adult population each year. This makes it one of the most common mental health conditions. However, this statistic may not accurately reflect its prevalence as many cases often go undiagnosed or untreated.
How is Bipolar Disorder Diagnosed?
Bipolar disorder is diagnosed through a combination of physical examinations, mental health evaluations, and a thorough review of patient history. It’s also important to discuss family health history, as bipolar disorder can have a genetic component. Apart from that, healthcare professionals may first conduct a physical examination to rule out any physical factors contributing to the symptoms.
Following a physical exam, a person might undergo a mental health evaluation. During a mental health evaluation, a mental health professional assesses a person’s mood, behavior, and thought patterns. There’s no specific test to diagnose bipolar disorder, but these steps can help a healthcare provider make an accurate diagnosis.
Common Treatment Methods for Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that typically requires long-term management. Common treatment methods include a combination of medication, psychotherapy, and lifestyle changes. Medication often involves mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and, in some cases, antidepressants. Psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT for teens) and family-focused therapy, assists in understanding the condition and managing symptoms. Maintaining a stable and healthy lifestyle can also play a significant role in managing bipolar disorder. This may include getting better sleep, a balanced diet, and regular exercise.
Bipolar Disorder: a Guide for Parents
As a parent, it’s difficult to navigate the psyche of a teenager even without a mental health disorder. Adding bipolar disorder to the mix is unfortunate, but not impossible to navigate. There are many ways to help a teen with bipolar disorder; some of these include the following:
- Keeping communication open concerning the topic of bipolar disorder
- Navigating mood swings with grace and understanding
- Encouraging a healthy lifestyle
Open communication as a parent can significantly impact the well-being of teenagers with bipolar disorder. Maintaining transparent and nonjudgmental dialogue helps these adolescents feel understood and supported, which are crucial elements in managing their condition. It can also provide them with a safe space to share their feelings and experiences openly, thereby mitigating feelings of isolation.
Furthermore, consistent communication enables parents to detect any changes in their teen’s mood or behavior promptly; this allows for early intervention and management of potential bipolar episodes.
Navigating mood swings as a parent of a child with bipolar disorder can be a challenging journey. It is imperative to maintain a calm and supportive environment, even in the most difficult moments. Recognizing the signs of an impending mood swing, such as changes in sleep patterns, appetite, and energy levels, can help mitigate its impact.
Encouraging a healthy lifestyle is crucial for any teenager, but for those living with bipolar disorder, it becomes even more essential. Consistent routines, a balanced diet, regular physical activity, and adequate sleep can all profoundly impact their mood stability and overall well-being. It’s important to guide your teen toward these healthy habits while also promoting open dialogue about their experiences and feelings. Support and understanding play a key role in the journey towards managing this disorder.
Ridge RTC is Here to Help You Navigate Bipolar Disorder
At Ridge RTC, we know how difficult it is to live with bipolar disorder; we can help you as you navigate parenting a bipolar teen. We offer comprehensive care for those suffering from mental illness. If you’d like to learn more about us or are interested in learning more, you can contact us here.