This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Books and Methods Review - Bipolar Disorder

Anyone can develop bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression), including children and teens. However, most people with bipolar disorder develop it in their late teen or early adult years. The illness usually lasts a lifetime.

When children develop the illness, it is called early-onset bipolar disorder. This type can be more severe than bipolar disorder in older teens and adults. Also, young people with bipolar disorder may have symptoms more often and switch moods more frequently than adults with the illness. Trauma has been known to trigger early-onset bipolar disorder in children that have a genetic predisposition to it.

Bipolar mania, hypomania, and depression are symptoms of bipolar disorder. The dramatic mood changes of bipolar disorder do not follow a set pattern -- depression does not always follow mania. A person may experience the same mood state several times -- for weeks, months, even years at a time -- before suddenly having the opposite mood. Moods can rapid cycle too - minutes, hours. Also, the severity of mood phases can differ from person to person.

Hypomania is a less severe form of mania. Hypomania is a mood that many don't perceive as a problem. It actually may feel pretty good. You have a greater sense of well-being and productivity. However, for someone with bipolar disorder, hypomania can evolve into mania -- or can switch into serious depression.

The experience of these manic stages has been described this way:

Hypomania:At first when I'm high, it's tremendous ... ideas are fast ... like shooting stars you follow until brighter ones appear... All shyness disappears, the right words and gestures are suddenly there ... uninteresting people, things, become intensely interesting. Sensuality is pervasive, the desire to seduce and be seduced is irresistible. Your marrow is infused with unbelievable feelings of ease, power, well-being, omnipotence, euphoria ... you can do anything ... but somewhere this changes.

Mania:The fast ideas start coming too fast and there are far too many ... overwhelming confusion replaces clarity ... you stop keeping up with it … memory goes. Infectious humor ceases to amuse. Your friends become frightened ... everything is now against the grain ... you are irritable, angry, frightened, uncontrollable, and trapped.

Some people with bipolar disorder become psychotic when manic or depressed, hearing things that aren't there. They may hold onto false beliefs, and cannot be swayed from them. In some instances, they see themselves as having superhuman skills and powers -- even considering themselves to be god-like.

Bipolar Disorder can co-exist with other mental illnesses. The symptoms of Bipolar Disorder and many other diagnoses (ADHD, RAD, PTSD, trauma...) can be similar and/or overlap with each other. Overlapping Behavior Characteristics Chart. Diagnosis should only be done by an experienced medical health professional.

Children with mood disorders do better in a low-stress, quiet home environment, and with a family communication style that is calm, low-volume, non-critical, and focused on problem-solving rather than punishment or blaming. Stress reduction at school through use of an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) is also very important. Request an evaluation from your child’s school counselor or psychologist to get the process started.

Child Mania Rating Scale - 
1. Have periods of feeling super happy for hours or days at a time, extremely wound up and excited, such as feeling "on top of the world"
2. Feel irritable, cranky, or mad for hours or days at a time
3. Think that he or she can be anything or do anything  (e.g., leader, best basket ball player, rap singer, millionaire, princess) beyond what is usual for that age
4. Believe that he or she has unrealistic abilities or powers that are unusual, and may try to act upon them, which causes trouble
5. Need less sleep than usual; yet does not feel tired the next day
6. Have periods of too much energy
7. Have periods when she or he talks too much or too loud or talks a mile-a-minute
8. Have periods of racing thoughts that his or her mind cannot slow down , and it seems that your child’s mouth cannot keep up with his or her mind
9. Talk so fast that he or she jumps from topic to topic
10. Rush around doing things nonstop
11. Have trouble staying on track and is easily drawn to what is happening around him or her
12. Do many more things than usual, or is unusually productive or highly creative
13. Behave in a sexually inappropriate way (e.g., talks dirty, exposing, playing with private parts, masturbating, making sex phone calls, humping on dogs, playing sex games, touches others sexually)
14. Go and talk to strangers inappropriately, is more socially outgoing than usual 
15. Do things that are unusual for him or her that are  foolish or risky (e.g., jumping off heights, ordering CDs with your credit cards, giving things away)
16. Have rage attacks, intense and prolonged temper tantrums
17. Crack jokes or pun more than usual, laugh loud, or act silly in a way that is out of the ordinary
18. Experience rapid mood swings
19. Have any suspicious or strange thoughts
20. Hear voices that nobody else can hear
21. See things that nobody else can see

Bipolar – great source of information and support.  They have a support group for just about everyone – parents with adopted children, parents with teens, parents of kids in residential treatment…

Marythemom:  This is another book that should be in the bookshelf of all parents who are dealing with a child with trauma and mood issues.  It discusses not only how bipolar disorder looks in children (which is significantly different than in adults), but also other disorders and issues with similar symptoms that can mimic bipolar disorder.  (ADHD, PTSD, trauma…).  It also discusses medications and their effects.  This is a great reference book!
My children are also diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.  I’m finding it interesting how much overlap there is between bipolar and RAD.  This book has some spots that are dry and tough to read, but has also got some extremely helpful info.  And not just for bipolar disorder in kids.

AMAZON REVIEW:  For any caregiver experiencing life with a bipolar child, Demitri and Janice Papolos's The Bipolar Child will be an indispensable reference guide. The material is presented clearly, with lots of helpful charts and lists to aid in receiving proper diagnosis, treatment, and long-term care. All medical information is relayed with the aim of helping parents to ensure effective treatment for their children and includes journal-tracking formats to help caregivers provide accurate information to personal physicians. Importantly, many pages are devoted to discussions about the emotional upheavals that living with a bipolar child can bring, and how parents and children can cope most effectively. The book is filled with families' stories that do a beautiful job providing comfort and inspiration to others. A detailed chapter on hospitalization covers everything from insurance to types of treatments. The authors provide excellent information regarding improved educational practices, with step-by-step instructions for goal-setting with your child and communicating your child's needs to school personnel.

Intense Minds: Through the Eyes of Young People with Bipolar Disorder by Tracy Anglada.  Young people with bipolar disorder and adults who grew up with the condition speak out to share how they experienced the symptoms of this illness during their youth, and how it affected their functioning in school, at home and with friends. Their insightful comments, woven together by the author, form a stunning picture of the young person's internal experience. The reader will come away with a new understanding of these young people and a renewed commitment to make a difference by reaching out to help.

"Tracy Anglada has broken new ground with Intense Minds. While most books speak about the children and their feelings, hers is the first to capture the children articulating what they truly feel themselves: their impossible levels of frustration and irritability, their episodes of emptiness or manic energy, their severe difficulties in the academic environment, and their dread of night time due to their propensity to suffer horrific images and scenarios while sleeping.
Parent Review:  For those of you wanting to understand your teens and how they feel.  It SO helped me understand my boys and what they go through, especially at school.

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