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Teenagers and BP

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Hi everyone

I am worried about my daughter and I'm just wondering if any of you have information or experiences that might give me some insights...

My daughter is 13 and is suffering from severe anxiety and now is starting to show signs of depression--very sad, crying for no reason, not doing the things that she normally likes, etc. She has also had some panic attacks.

Me? I have BP I and severe anxiety and also have panic attacks. I know, from my pdoc, that anxiety and panic attacks go hand in hand with BP. So....yeah....I am very worried about my daughter....

I know BP is genetic....my father has BP I....my mother has hypomania regularly....both of my grandfathers had BP I (one was a suicide)....her father, well, I happen to think he's got BP, but at the very least he suffers from depressions and her father's father definitely suffers from depressions and has been on ADs for decades....you get the picture....

So when can you tell if a teenager is BP? Or do you have to wait until late adolescence/early 20's like most people? Is this anxiety and depression "it"? Or is the BP "it" when the first mania hits?

I don't know a darned thing about kid/teenager BP...any thoughts/info? I appreciate any and all!



...edited for accuracy

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I don't have children, so I can't offer anything from personal experience. I did just have a look in one of my BP books ("Taming Bipolar Disorder" by Lori Oliwenstein) and it has a pretty comprehensive and up to date chapter on bipolar children. I think it'd be worth reading if you can get hold of a copy.


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My adult son is BP, and has been all his life---and I mean ALL--and I had no idea. (Great nurse, huh?)

He is BPi and one of the important things I learned is that he--and most teens and kids --cycle very rapidly, all day long. We used to call it "the pod people have come and taken Jess's brain again". I coiuld literally --and still can--watch him flip. The other thing is that because he is never really manic, only irritable, --anxious, and has a tendancy to spend money and make poor decisions, it took a long time to dx this. Now, however, with more emphasis and research on kids and BP, it should not take long for any child or teen to get a proper dx, with a competent doc who works with kids and knows BP. I learned, for instance, that my kid could and should have been dx's years ago--but they just thought he was depressed--which he was--and irreitable and anxious. Which of course are hallmarks of BP I in kids and teens--and some adults, like me. (Genetic, huh???)

But the most important thing is this--many, many, teens and young adults will REFUSE to take and stay onmeds. Why? Cause we did such a good job telling them they should just say no. My kids have been around all kinds of drugs for years--and our family motto (prior to dx) was "You take drugs when you want to--if you NEED to, its a problem" So he refuses to take anything for the BP. And he is not alone. I try to tell him its like diabetes or something--no go. Once he said to me,"Mom I have to prove to myself that I can do this, I can make it on my own--no drugs." He has learned some great techniques--yoga, meditation, etc. when he is getting hypomanic--and he almost always calls me, and we can talk thru it.

I tel him how great my drugs are, because we are identical--ADD and bipolar. I tell him when I found out to NEVER take steroids--

but I hit a wall with getting him into therapy or on medication. I just thank the goddess his current girl friend loves him, knows his tricks (he can be a user) and--best of all--appears to be totally sane herself. This is a real first for him--he has dated every nutcase on the east coast. Just pray this one sticks!

I hope this helps--its been a real nightmare, at times, learinging to deal with this--PM me any time if you want to talk (I don't do chat--not geeky enough to figure it out--duh)

good luck, and blessings,'china

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i was DXed when i was 7, a lot younger than most people, and it was during a mania. i just went nuts!

anyway, the DX was made with the help of our family history. with both parents being BP1, they knew what to look out for, and like you with your daughter, saw that with me things were heading in the direction theirs had gone in. i was such a deprssed child, crying all the time, afraid of everything, having constant panic attacks- and never had drug therapy until i was 18 (my mom actually wouldn't let me until i could make the choice for myself, nice, huh?).

i'd say you could ask her to track her moods on something like www.moodtracker.com, or just ask her every day how she feels and keep a record of it. it will be useful to give to a psych professional to have her DXed. it does sound like she should be seen by somebody who knows about mood disorders in children and teens who can help identify what is just being a teenager and what is a mood disorder (in my teens i thought they were one in the same, as all my friends suddenly acted bipolar!).

remember, it only takes one lifetime episode of hypomania or mania to be classified as BP. hopefully she's fine. i'm sure that with you looking out for her that she'll be fine.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have always felt not quite right with my moods and everybody has always noticed them. Okay most teenagers get mood swings but mine were always worse than most both during and before my teenage years. I'd say I probably had my first major depressive episode aged 9, but I think it was probably triggered off by bullying. My manic side has been less severe but people have always commented on it - telling me not to 'over dramatise' things. This was years before any sort of diagnosisbut I remember often my mother would comment that she though I might have some form of bipolar disorder (although she called it manic depression).

If your daughter's problems are severe enough for her to find it difficult to cope then it may well be bipolar disorder. However you need to get her to a pdoc.

Okay, I've just basically repeated what others have said but...erm...

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