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Dispel the Myth
What Childhood Bipolar Disorder Is and Is Not
There are many myths about childhood bipolar disorder. To dispel the myths about childhood bipolar disorder, you first need to know what
chidlhood bipolar disorder is and what childhood bipolar disorder is not.
The information presented below will help you understand what childhood bipolar disorder is and is not (if you don't already know) and also help you to show
others what the differences are. Dispelling the myths about childhood bipolar disorder is one way we as parents can help educate others and work towards reducing the stigma and rude comments sometimes
attached to children with mental health illnesses and the parents who raise them.
Childhood Bipolar Disorder IS NOT
- only in adults.
- very rare in children.
- bad parenting; inconsistent discipline and/or lack of discipline.
- the same for all children.
- the same everywhere.
- "Souped Up" ADHD.
- an excuse for bad and/or poor behavior.
- simple and straightforward with obvious clearcut cycles between lows, highs, and normal moods.
- "the end".
Childhood Bipolar Disorder IS
- and can be developed by children, even very young children.
- more common than people think. Approximately 750,000 U.S. children have full bipolar disorder and another 2-3 million are on the bipolar disorder spectrum.
- caused by a combination of factors, including genetics.
- a group of symptoms including mood changes and certain behaviors. Symptoms look different depending on the child's age, severity of the illness, and if any other disorders are present.
- variable and unpredictable. It can appear in one of these settings (home, school, stores, other people's homes) and not appear in other settings, or it can appear in all settings and not in one setting.
- sometimes mistaken (or misdiagnosed) as ADHD. Some symtoms are shared, but they are not the same disorder and the treatment is different.
- a brain disorder. Problems in the brain show up as problems in behavior.
- complex, chronic, and unpredictable with rapid cycling and mixed mood states. In children, mania symptoms are generally extreme irritability unlike the euphoria seen in adults.
- one of the toughest parenting challenges.
- only one aspect of a child.