Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic-depressive disorder or manic depression, is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic mental health illness. Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that is characterized by noticeable, unprovoked, sometimes extreme, changes in mood and behavior, that typically present as severe episodic mood swings, shifting between emotional highs (manias) to emotional lows (depressions) with intervals of stable moods. Bipolar disorder can develop at any age, but it is typically diagnosed in individuals younger than age twenty-five. The overall rate of bipolar disorder in youth (ages 7 to 21) has been estimated to be 1.8%.
Bipolar Disorder and Teen Mental Health
The World Health Organization (WHO) explains mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” Any mental health condition, including bipolar disorder, can have a significant impact on a teenager’s mental health. Medical News Today explains that the symptoms of bipolar disorder can affect a young person’s energy levels, activity, social network, academics, financial situation, sleep, behaviors, judgment, and family life. The connection between bipolar disorder and teen mental health is best highlighted by its symptoms. Common examples of symptoms that can present with bipolar disorder include the following, provided by the Mayo Clinic:
- Symptoms that may occur during emotional highs:
- Increased energy.
- Easily distractible.
- Decreased need for sleep.
- Excessive talkativeness.
- Lack of judgment.
- Atypically upbeat.
- Shift in social activities.
- Relationship challenges.
- Symptoms that may occur during emotional lows:
- Inability to experience pleasure or loss of interest in social activities.
- Crying spells (i.e., frequent, and random crying throughout the day).
- Depressed mood.
- Feelings of hopelessness.
- Loss of energy.
- Shift in sleeping habits (e.g., either sleeping too much or experiencing insomnia).
- Slowed behavior.
- Feelings of excessive guilt.
- Inability to think clearly.
- Suicidal ideation.
- Lack of energy.
- Shift in appetite resulting in drastic weight loss or weight gain.
Bipolar disorder causes extreme fluctuation in a teen’s mood, energy, and ability to function. According to the diagnostic criteria outlined in the DSM-5, bipolar disorder is diagnosed when a young person experiences three or more manic symptoms and five or more depressive symptoms. The symptoms and severity of symptoms will vary from person to person and may shift over time. Bipolar disorder severely affects normal development and psychosocial functioning and increases the risk for behavioral, academic, social, and legal problems, as well as psychosis, substance abuse, and suicide. Although bipolar disorder is a chronic mental health condition, there are many treatment options available. Effective treatment will help a young person learn applicable strategies, techniques, and tools to cope with and navigate the symptoms of bipolar disorder and improve one’s quality of life. According to the National Advisory Mental Health Council, the treatment success rate for bipolar disorder is nearly eighty percent.
For Information and Support
Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times.
Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.
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