Life for many families would be easier if this next myth were indeed true. However, children as young as 6 can develop bipolar disorder, and the disease can prompt children to attempt suicide. When bipolar disorder presents itself at a young age, there's often a corresponding family history of mood disorders. Children who develop it can experience many periods of depression before the first manic episode, making it harder to diagnose. Sometimes, these depressions are accompanied by psychotic thoughts and behaviors, and children are more likely to experience mixed states -- that is, having mania and depression at the same time.
While lithium is often less effective in children (and the side effects are worse), advancing research and knowledge of adolescent bipolar disorder -- when matched with early detection and treatment -- offers more hope each day to families with bipolar children.
Did You Know?
Early-onset bipolar disorder (bipolar disorder in children) can be more severe than the adult version, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Symptoms and changes in mood occur more frequently in bipolar children than they do in adults.