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Bipolar Disorder (Children and Adolescents)

Dangerous Behavior and Bipolar Disorder

05/31/2005

Question:

I have read that aggressive behavior accompanies bipolar disorder. When the patient is having thoughts of suicide does that person care whether or not they take someone with them ? (e.g., driving over the edge of a mountain with passengers in the car.)

Answer:

Hello,

Thank you for question re: aggressive behavior. As I am an expert on child/teen bipolar disorder (BP), I can only speak with regards to that age range and not in terms of adults with BP.

You are right, irritability (and taken to its extreme, aggressive behavior) is a symptom of BP and can co-occur with suicidal thoughts/actions, a symptom of depression. At the moment, there is no research to suggest a link between suicidal and homicidal actions by children/teens with BP. This doesn't mean to say these symptoms cannot occur together, and they are present by themselves or in combination.

I would strongly recommend the child/teen be seen by a mental health professional as soon as possible to assess the risk of them acting on their thoughts and preventing such behaviors. I conceptualize suicidal/homicidal thoughts/behaviors as the child/teen's "last-option solutions" to life problems, albeit ineffective solutions. The presence of such symptoms is a sign that the child/teen is having extreme difficulty coping with and generating alternative effective solutions to their problems. As well as helping assess the risk of suicidality/homicidality and preventing such actions, mental health professionals can also help child/teens develop more effective solutions to cope with life. Hence another reason for children/teens to obtain help.

I hope that helps answer your question. Best wishes.

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Response by:

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