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Bipolar Disorder (Children and Adolescents)

Identifying Bipolar Disorder in Difficult Children

04/06/2005

Question:

I have had my son in therapy for around four years now. His regular doctor and a child psychologist said he could possibly have bipolar disorder, he has been to four other psychologists who could not give me any answers at all, he has been admitted to a hospital who identifies what he has as ADHD, oppisitional defiance disorder (ODD) and depression, and is currently going to the local community mental healh center and they say "he just doesn't care and nothing is wrong with him, he`s just defiant." He has been on risperdal- adderall and celexa for over a year but he`s just getting worse. He is now 12 years old and in a detention home as we speak. He was going after my oldest son with an ice pick. He has threatened to kill me and my oldest son more times than I can count, he talks back, swears, destroys my house to the point I have hundreds of holes in my walls. The doors and screens have been completely destroyed to the point that they all need to be removed. He has punched kids and made death threats against kids at school, has punchered holes in tires with other kids and has been in the court system ever since. He lies all the time, steals constantly and smokes but never admits to anything, it is always someone elses fault. The first time he went after someone with a knife was when he was about 5 or 6 years old. He goes completely nuts over very minor things and thinks every time someone does something on accident to him its intentional and he completely loses it- I have to grab him around the neck and pull him down and hold him down to get him under control which sometimes takes 45 minutes- I am so afraid he is going to hurt someone and he likes to play with fire. I have caught him burning hundres of matches just for the heck of it at 2AM before- they were in his trash can- i colud smell them. He is in trouble on a daily basis, I havent had a knife in my house in over a year so I can`t cook meat but I have taken a couple away along with about 34 lighters in the last year- I know he has stolen these things and has been caught stealing from friends, stores, etc. but will not admit it to anyone. I have taken him to so many doctors and they won`t let him out of detention until he has a psychological evaluation some time this week but I`m afraid I`m not going to get any real definite answers from this one either. I don`t know where else to turn, I have no insurance and no money, I`m a single mother and the kids have medicaid only. Do you think he could be Bipolar? Please help I`m desperate.

Answer:

Hello,

Thank you for your question. Your son's behavior could indicate possible bipolar disorder. However, the only way to find out if someone has bipolar or any psychiatric disorder is to get a comprehensive and detailed psychological assessment from a trained mental health professional. It sounds like you are having difficulty finding a professional who knows how to diagnoses bipolar disorder in children. Diagnosing bipolar disorder in children and teenagers is very challenging and requires specialized training. I would suggest calling your local university, community mental health center or National Association of Mentally Ill chapter to ask for names, locations and phone numbers of mental health professionals who have expertise in this area. I hope this answer is helpful.

Best wishes.

Related Resources:

Mental Health Services Directories
National Alliance for the Mentally Ill

For more information:

Go to the Bipolar Disorder (Children and Adolescents) health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Nicholas   Lofthouse, PhD Nicholas Lofthouse, PhD
Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University