Teen Bipolar and Depressive Disorders: Types and Treatment

There are many different groups of disorders that psychologists and therapists might choose from when making a diagnosis. Of course, this depends on the symptoms you’re having, the level of impaired functioning at school or work, and the impact on your relationships with friends and family.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V) categorizes disorders into certain major groups. However, the grouping of these mental illnesses has changed with the new edition of the DSM. Now mental illnesses are in groups as Anxiety Disorders, Depressive Disorders, Dissociative Disorders, Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders, Obsessive Compulsive and Related Disorders, Substance-Related Disorders, and more.

Depressive Disorder or a Bipolar Disorder

Of teens that are that have a mental illness, some of them  recognize having either a Depressive Disorder or a Bipolar Disorder. The following provides a more detailed explanation of both, along with a brief summary of treatment methods.

 Major Depressive Disorder

This disorder is a medical illness that includes symptoms of persistent sadness, loss of interest in daily activities, occupational and educational impairment, along with eventual emotional and physical problems. Major Depressive Disorder usually requires long-term treatment, including psychotherapy and medication.

Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder

This is a new disorder in the newest edition of the DSM-V. It was added to prevent over- diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder in children and teens. Those children who exhibit persistent irritability and frequent episodes of extreme behavior control might be diagnosed with this disorder. Treatment might include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, medication, group therapy, or a combination of these.

Bipolar Disorder

This disorder is classified in two ways. An adolescent with teen Bipolar Disorder will be diagnosed as having either Type 1 or Type 2. This first type of Bipolar, also known as Bipolar I, includes one or more distinct periods of mania, and could also include a mixed period. For instance, if there is a period of mania, there might also be features of depression and if there is a period of depression, there might also be features of mania.

Bipolar II has  at least one episode of hypomania and at least one episode of depression. This diagnosis can be made only if the individual has not ever experienced a period of mania. Hypomania is an episode of that is less severe than a full episode of mania. Treatment for Bipolar Disorder might include medication and psychotherapy. For example, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, life skills training, psycho-education, and hospitalization, if necessary.

Schizoaffective Disorder

Another diagnosis that has relevance to mood disorders is Schizoaffective Disorder. What makes schizoaffective disorder different from schizophrenia is that the symptom of psychosis combines with symptoms of a mood disorder, such as major depression or bipolar disorder. An adolescent with schizoaffective disorder would have disturbances in mood as well as symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized thinking. Schizoaffective is usually diagnosed in late versus early adolescence. It includes disturbances in the way that a teen might think, act, express emotions, or perceive reality.

For this reason, it might impair a teen’s functioning at home, school, work, or in relationships with others. With proper treatment, you can ease symptoms and functioning can return to a relatively normal state. However, over time, most individuals with schizoaffective disorder have relapses where symptoms resurface. Treatment for a teen with schizoaffective disorder would include: proper medication, psychotherapy, training on the development of necessary life skills, and possible hospitalization.


The above disorders are those related to mood disturbance. Of course, variations in mood are common in adolescence. For this reason, it’s important to have a teen clinically assessed if he or she is exhibiting symptoms of a mental illness.