Bipolar Disorder in Teenagers

The teenage years are an emotional time for most people, and as such it can sometimes be difficult to know where the line is between normal teenage moodiness and the abnormal behaviors of bipolar disorder. Additionally complicating matters is the fact that bipolar disorder in teens can look a bit different than it does in adults.

While the main characteristics of bipolar--mania and depression--are present in both teens and adults, teenagers may switch moods more frequently, have more mixed episodes (episodes with both manic and depressive symptoms), and show symptoms more often.

Recognizing Mania in Teenagers

Teenagers who are experiencing a manic episode may act unusually happy or silly, be irritable and have a very short temper, talk rapidly about many different subjects, sleep little but not feel tired, have difficulty concentrating and staying focused, talk and think about sex more often, and engage in risky behaviors.

Recognizing Depression in Teenagers

Teenagers in a depressive episode may have feelings of extreme sadness, guilt or worthlessness, complain about physical symptoms and pain, sleep an unusual amount (either too little or too much), have changes in appetite, be low energy, have little interest in formerly fun activities, and think about death or suicide.

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