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Bipolar Disorder (Children and Adolescents)

Finding Out if its Bipolar Dsiorder

07/25/2007

Question:

My 14 year old niece has had mental problems since a toddler. For years they didn`t know what was wrong with her. Finally they said she was bipolar. At the age of 5 she tried to strangle her infant brother with a cord. At age 7 she accussed my sons 9 year old friend of touching her which was later revealed she lied because she was mad. Approx.1 year later she accused another young boy of touching her and it was dismissed in court. Now 2 weeks ago she accussed my husband of touching her. When asked what happened, she has said many different stories and gets nervous saying she is confused but that same night she called up her friend and had no difficulty in talking and added things to her story. Phone calls were made by her(documented by cell phone)when this was supposely happening. My niece informed us that she lets her boyfriend rub her breast, kiss her neck and tickle her because that is what people who are in love do. A week prior to this accusation her boyfriend would not return her calls or was to busy to talk to her. I believe this might of had something to do with it because that is part of what her acussed my husband of. My niece has a hard time keeping friends, but she wants to be liked and to be popular. She doesn`t get the attention she needs from my brother and her mom like she should. 2 months ago she broke into a house and said it was her friends idea and finally admitted it was hers. Other symptoms she has is walking on her toes, feeling things are crawling on her,running out of the house in a rage for no reason, repeating alot,sensitive to things touching her. Recently she pretended she was being sexual with a boy making the noises,pretending to be touching someone and wanted my 7 year old daughter to play the game with her. About 2-3 years ago she did spend approx. 2 weeks in a mental hospital. Is this bipolar?

Answer:

Thank you for your e-mail and question. Your niece's behavior could indicate several possible disorders, including bipolar disorder, but I really can't say with the information you have given me. The only way to find out if someone has a psychiatric disorder is to get a comprehensive and detailed psychological assessment, using information from several sources (teen, parent, teacher), from a trained mental health professional.

I would suggest calling your local university, community mental health center or National Association of Mentally Ill (NAMI) chapter to ask for names, locations and phone numbers of mental health professionals who have expertise assessing and treating adolescents.

I hope this answer is helpful.

Related Resources:

National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology
Mental Health Services Locator (Center for Mental Health Services)
CONTACT USA

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