Bipolar Disorder Children and Teens
Bipolar Treatment and Drugs, Side Effects
Children and teens can be helped to overcome symptoms of bipolar disorder. Positive lifestyle changes can make a big difference.
Children are being increasingly treated with strong medications for bipolar disorder. The rate of diagnosis of bipolar disorder in youths increased 40x in just ten years, from years 1993 to 2003. Bipolar Disorder is also one of the most commonly misdiagnosed mental health conditions with an clinically determined misdiagnosis rate, in one study, of 54% (adults). (Zimmerman). Diagnosis of bipolar disorder in teens and children is even more controversial.
Around 90% of those diagnosed with bipolar disorder are treated with medications. The use of multiple medications, from two different types, to up to six different medications is a common practice.
Approximately 54% of those diagnosed with bipolar disorder are misdiagnosed. Lifestyle changes can help many to overcome or lessen the intensity of symptoms of bipolar disorder. (picture for illustrative purposes only w/no relation to the subject matter of this page).
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Many of these medications, if not most, are sedating in their effects. In the case of newer atypical antipsychotics, they can also be sedating, although less so than older typical antipsychotics or anticonvulsants, such as Depakote. Depakote and other mood stabilizers, were actually a drugs developed for epilepsy, but which was later tested and approved for bipolar disorder and are often used in combination with atypical antipsychotics.
This combination of drugs is a powerful mind-altering and sedating "drug-cocktail," and both the short-term and long-term effectiveness of adding multiple medications to the treatment regimen is something that has been questioned and challenged in well-developed clinical studies.
Bipolar disorder treatment for children: Lamictal, an anticonvulsant, used for both epilepsy (its original use), and bipolar disorder is also prescribed for children.
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The atypical antipsychotics, especially when combined with other medications, which is often the case, can have an effect on the mental state of the child or youth being treated, as well as adults putting one's mind into a different "unnatural" level. Some have described a somewhat "detached" feeling from drugs prescribed for bipolar disorder, including atypical antipsychotics and lithium. (Personal blog from client on lithium for many years. (2007) Bipolar Journal).
Parents, however, are often desperate to find a solution to a child's or youths problems with anger and intermittent depression, and doctors are quick to treat with medications.
Children as young as two years old have been on multiple medications, and this can be very dangerous. (the much publicized death of a four year old this year-2007, of a four year old girl who had been on medication since she was two. (Kluger, J., November 3, 2003)
Bipolar disorder children and natural balancing activities: Art, exercise, limiting media time and intensity, gentle music, can help to balance mood for young people and children.
Many children and youths have been noted to have "a rage" inside of them, which concerns parents and educators, as well as those in the medical professions. However, it must be noted, that the positive benefits of medicinal intervention, especially in view of the fact that only 40% of those who are prescribed medications for bipolar disorder also receive any type of therapy, are debatable and still in question.
Polypharmacology and the use of multiple medications to treat childhood bipolar disorder.
While some have experienced some temporary relief from symptoms, others have had to search for the right "mixture" of pharmaceutical treatments, which can prove to be elusive or a temporary remedy at best, sometimes leading to further long term difficulties. Many who are treated with pharmaceuticals have found themselves as youths or adults, on up to 20 different types of medication in a 4 or 5 year time frame. The dangers of using multiple medications and switching and experimenting with different types of medications and medication mixes is obvious. (Ibid, 2003).
Zimmerman M, Ruggero CJ, Chelminski I, Young D. Is bipolar disorder overdiagnosed? Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 2008 Jun;69(6):935-40.
See: Bipolar Disorder Overdiagnosed reaffirms a recent study by Zimmerman, associate professor of psychiatry at Rhode Island University. (on-site)
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