Teen Bipolar Disorder: Clear Answers To Complex Questions – Part Two

This is a two part series covering teen Bipolar Disorder along with diagnosis and treatment. These two articles are meant to provide clear and simple information so that your questions can easily get answered.


The first article in this series defined the disorder, its symptoms, and what teens can expect. This article will explain the process of diagnosis and what to expect from teen Bipolar Disorder treatment.


How is Bipolar Disorder diagnosed?


Some teens with Bipolar Disorder end up getting diagnosed with all sorts of other mental illnesses first, such as ADHD, depression or Reactive Attachment Disorder. However, the best thing a parent can do is to obtain for their teenager a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation from a board certified psychiatrist. Also, it’s important to keep in mind that if your child exhibits signs of depression, mania, or both, then you may want to find a psychiatrist that specializes in mood disorders, particularly in adolescence.


Taking this step can be a very effective beginning. It will get you on the right track to finding the right diagnosis and medication. It may not immediately result in finding the ongoing support you and your teen need, but at the very least you can trust the diagnosis you receive and feel that you are taking the first steps on the right road to proper treatment.


It might seem obvious, but discovering the right diagnosis is essential. Everything else – medication, therapy, interventions, and treatment in general – depends on it. As you move through this process, be patient. Getting an accurate diagnosis is an evolution of sorting through information that changes as your teenager continues to develop. Yet, perhaps, as a parent of a teenager, patience is the one virtue you know well.


How is Bipolar Disorder treated?


If your child has been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, you might have already had a discussion with his or her psychiatrist about medication. However, using psychotropic medication, although growing as a choice for treating psychological disorders, continues to carry a stigma. Often, those who take medication for their mental health are judged or looked down upon.


Despite this, research shows that the combination of medication and individual therapy are quite effective for treating most mood disorders. For Bipolar Disorder, specifically, medication can manage the wide swing of changing moods from depression to mania. Various forms of medication used to treat Bipolar Disorder in adolescents include mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and antipsychotics.


Although these are the most common ways Bipolar Disorder is treated medically, other methods such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), for severe cases of Bipolar Disorder might be considered. ECT, formerly known as electroshock, gained widespread popularity among psychiatrists in the 1940’s and 1960’s. Today, it is used to treat severe cases of depression, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, and other forms of mental illness.


Additionally, herbal supplements, such as St. John’s Wort, might also be used as a treatment method for depression. Of course, any herbal supplement must be discussed in detail with a psychiatrist, particularly because of the dangers that exist when combining prescribed psychotropic medication with herbal supplements.


As a caregiver, it is essential to stay informed. The treatment methods for mental illness have become more refined over the years. Learning what you can about the diagnosis of your teenager, how it is best treated, and the side effects of those treatments is in your best interest and that of your child.


What can teens expect from treatment?


There were many teen Bipolar Disorder treatment methods described above. However, typically, teens can expect to receive therapy and medication. Although adolescents tend to be intimidated by both, these medication and therapy are effective – they work! And many teens find that having a relief of symptoms is all they really want. Whether you’re a parent or teen experiencing these symptoms, likely you and the rest of your family are also affected. By seeking the assistance from a mental health professional, you provide great support to your entire family.


The above questions and their answers were intended to provide straightforward information to the many questions that might arise with Bipolar Disorder treatment. If you have more questions, contact a mental health professional today.