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Bipolar Disorder (Children and Adolescents)

Dealing with a Bipolar Child Without Medication

03/24/2006

Question:

I am desperately trying to get my son`s medication adjusted. He was a straight A student, now he won`t do his work, is causing disturbances in class, stealing money, and isoften getting isolated at lunch. I have never solely used mediaction but I supply him with a membership to a community center. I have also been trying out an afterschool program that has the children do their homework, and incorporates exercise. I moved his bedtime up to 8pm, but this doesn`t mean he sleeps. This community center does not have any crisis resources for children, I am at a loss as where to turn until his medication is adjusted properly. What else can I do?

Answer:

Hello and thank you for your excellent question. Although medication is the first-line of treatment for children with bipolar disorder, as you are finding out, it takes time to find the right medication, combination or dose, and medication doesn't solve all the problems in a child's life. That is why psychotherapy is often very effective in combination with medication. A therapist, with experience in childhood bipolar disorder, can provide helpful knowledge about the disorder and its treatment and help you and your child develop, practice and apply specific coping skills.

In addition, school interventions aimed at educating the school personnel about the disorder and developing skills to prevent or manage symptoms and improve academic, behavioral and peer functioning can also be very helpful. I'd 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.

In the meantime, here are two excellent resources to help you find out more about bipolar disorder in children and adolescents.

1. The Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation (CABF) http://www.bpkids.org/

2. Raising a Moody Child: How to Cope with Depression and Bipolar Disorder, by Jill S. Goldberg Arnold, Ph.D. and Mary A. Fristad, Ph.D.

Hope this helps! Best wishes.

Related Resources:

National Alliance on Mental Illness: State/Local

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