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mood disorders in children


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So what's a mood disorder look like in a small child (ages 7-8)? I know it's somewhat controversial over whether they exist...but I'm going to work w/ the assumption that they exist. Anyone have a sense of what it looks like, since I'm guessing it's different from adults?

(the kid in question is having a full psych eval and it may not be a mood disorder, but i'm curious)

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Well, I can say that I was wondering if my little sister had a mood disorder (she was having problems I'm not going to get into), she was about 14.. so older than your child. But, anyway.. what I did was to have her keep a chart of her mood over two weeks. She put dots on a chart that was separated into three sections. Really happy, normal, and sad. There was also a paper where she put down what had happened that day to see if there was a direct reason for her mood. Ultimately she was good.. but I'm wondering if maybe something similar could be used. Not by keeping charts, but by you asking asking general questions and seeing if he/she is sad all the time without something really happening to cause it, or bouncing all over the place without the same. It may not work well enough for you to really see a pattern, but it could shed some light on what to look for as well as something to show the psych doc that could possibly help. Anyway, it couldn't hurt..

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Lots of agitation, hysterical crying, tantrumming, extreme "meltdowns" that lasted 4+ hours often with hallucinations, easily frutrated with reactions that were WAY over the top/disproportionate to the triggering event, extreme anxiety, mania (rapid speech, rambling, extremely excited, 'I can do anything,' 'everything is energized and blissful'), pleading to help control runaway emotions, extreme fear when she topped out, and suicidal ideation when the depression (that looks like extreme anger to irrepressible agitation) bottoms out or rebounds. That was my daughter from age 4 to present (13). Since she's been on Lamictal and others she cycles but it's been almost a year since we had the full on, 'oh shit we've got to take her to the hospital.'

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I've never had to experience it from an outside view (seeing someone else act) but i'd believe it would be hard to determine. Same with early adolescents. A lot of things that can be symptoms of mood disorders can also be "normal" for children. Like, big tantrums when they can't get anything.. or from a personal experience heavy anxiety when being left somewhere without my parents near (when I first started school, my mother told me i'd sit at the kindergarten window all day and just cry until I got picked up.)

It differs from child to child, depending on their own personality.

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I know when I was six or seven I would scream and cry a lot. But not like, occasionally, and whining. I mean a LOT, LOUDLY, for extended periods of time until my throat was raw. But you could tell that my DISPOSITION was generally happy, though. I mean, you could see that I was a caring, giving child. I would just have these tantrums that were so out of control they threatened to rip the house down.

Also, I don't think anyone knew, but there were a lot of times that I simply wanted to die because I felt so terrible. I don't think I told anyone, and I don't know how you yank that information out of a six year old, but I remember just wishing someone would kill me.

I didn't sleep very well and in my fits I would sometimes break things that were very important to me- I think that's something to note. If a child is truly out of control, they won't be able to stop themselves breaking the things they love. If they threaten to smash it against the wall, but don't, it may possibly not be as nuclear as it seems. May still be bad, but might be a five or six rather than a seven or eight.

I don't know. I just know the bipolar was WELL under way when I was very young.

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There is a website that compares ADHD and bipolar which you may find helpful.

www.adhd-bipolar-and-beyond.com

ADHD and bipolar are related somehow and can have similar symptoms and result in similar behaviors. The right dx and rx can alleviate those things. In my son's case, it was all ADHD. The 4-hour tantrums, crying jags for no real reason, and suicidal comments have all gone away now that he's on ADHD meds. But I was worried for a while that he had inherited my condition.

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So interesting and useful...thank you everyone. It's a bit daunting to consider possible diagnoses for a 7-year-old (hence why I'm not a psychiatrist or therapist, I guess). But it's seeming increasingly necessary b/c the poor young one cares so much and tries so hard but simply can't stop himself when he has a meltdown. His description was that he's simply "unable to calm down"---even if minutes before he was fine. He's so caring and perceptive...but so unstable. And yet at the same time has all sorts of adhd-like symptoms too. It's interesting to hear that it could be both, either, or neither. Thank goodness there's a good psychologist on board.

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I am going to bring this up with my son's psych. His current dx is ADHD but he is very moody and goes through these phases where he gets very silly and stubborn, won't listen to anyone, etc. Then the next day he's a different child. :( makes me wonder if he's bipolar too and we're just not seeing it.

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