While mental illness is never easy, bipolar disorder in teens can hit especially hard As if puberty alone enough, a child struggling with bipolar disorder must deal with the pressures of severe mood episodes, from depression one moment to mania the next. During such an important phase in your teen’s life, it is crucial to help them through this difficult time.
First, the bad news: bipolar disorder in teens is more than a phase. Typically, the illness lasts a lifetime. The good news is, however, that although the disorder cannot be cured completely, it can be managed. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, but there are a few guidelines to approaching bipolar disorder in teens.
- Don’t blame the child – or yourself. Bipolar disorder in teens is stressful, especially since a mood swing can strike at any time. Remember, it is a real illness, not a mere cry for attention.
- Listen. Whether your child is in a depressive or a manic state, sometimes having someone close lend an ear is all it takes to make the worst of an episode pass.
- Keep a routine (and a diary). Exercise, healthy eating patterns, and regular sleep are necessary to mitigate the effects of bipolar disorder in teens. Changes in any of these factors might signal the beginning of a new episode.
- Be patient and don’t stop trying. There will be bad days and the only way through them is with a positive attitude, in spite of the circumstances. When the worst is over, your child will be all the more grateful.
- Research. Understanding the disorder will go a long way. With mental health research advancing every day, by learning the latest about bipolar disorder in teens, you will well-equipped to discuss the illness with your child.
- Watch for warning signs. Bipolar disorder in teens is dangerous on both ends – during a depressive state, your child might consider hurting themselves; during a manic state, your child is more likely to engage in reckless and dangerous behaviors.
Consider professional help. Trails Carolina, a wilderness therapy program for young people ages 10-17, can help your teen find success. For more information about Trails Carolina, please call 800-975-7303.