Bipolar Disorder is a difficult illness to cope with – both as a teen as well as a parent of a teen with Bipolar. The problem with the illness is that there is a large swing of moods between mania and depression. Euphoria, elation, racing thoughts, irritability, and substance use are common symptoms of mania. When feeling low or depressed, the symptoms of depression to look for are decreased energy, insomnia, fatigue, agitation, and suicidal thoughts.
In addition to the swing of moods, some teens might not want to let go of their manic episodes. These periods might produce great creativity, wonderful insights, brilliant ideas, and feelings of invincibility. Although mania might feel uncomfortable at times – it can come with feelings of irritability. intensity, dangerous choices, and risky behavior – a teen can feel so good that he or she might skip their medication. Furthermore, mania is often experienced as an excited and elevated mood which could be experienced as fun for some adolescents. And for these reasons, teens might not want to abide by their treatment plan.
Yet, there are some serious potential consequences to mania, which parents need to watch out for. For instance, a teen who is manic might max out his parent’s credit card on a luxury online store, have unprotected sex with a partner he or she hardly knows, or go gambling and bet his or her entire savings at the casino. Mania might at the surface seem like it’s a version of happiness, but it’s a mood that comes with significant risks. Sure, it might be fun to be in those manic states, but on some level, there are serious consequences.
If parents or teens are beginning to see the signs of mania coming on, the best course of action is to contact your teen’s psychiatrist. Doing this can not only help minimize escalating manic symptoms, but you can also get professional help on your side. For instance, the psychiatrist will likely examine the medications your child is taking, whether your teenager is actually taking them as prescribed, and perhaps make an adjustment to the prescription.
After you’ve sought professional assistance, you might also consider the following strategies to control any escalating symptoms of mania:
- Make sure your teenager is taking his or her prescribed medication.
- Maintain a regular sleep-wake cycle and be sure your child is in the house before dark.
- Chart moods and sleep patterns.
- Encourage your adolescent to avoid alcohol, drugs, and all other substances.
- Demand that your teen give up the keys to his or her car, if they have one.
- Assert that your child not make any major life decisions while in the middle of a manic episode.
- Strongly advise your teen to not manage large sums of money.
- Minimize the levels of stimulation in the house and, as much as possible, create a sense of serenity at home.
- Impose appropriate consequences if your child engages in abusive behavior.
- If your child is experiencing a manic episode and he or she is engaging in risky or dangerous behavior, call the police.
Furthermore, it’s important to explain that Bipolar comes in two forms. Bipolar, type II, is characterized by periods of hypomania, versus mania. Hypomania is an episode of that is less severe than a full episode of mania. For instance, mania is an experience of euphoria, high energy, impulsivity, irritability, and less need for sleep. However, hypomania is an elevated mood that is not quite full mania but does include increased energy, less sleep, clarity of vision, and strong creativity. According to The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the standardized text used by psychologists and therapists to diagnose their clients, “in contrast to a Manic Episode, a Hypomanic Episode is not severe enough to cause marked impairment in social, educational, or occupational functioning or to require hospitalization.”
Nonetheless, taking the above precautions might also be necessary with periods of hypomania for some teens. Whether it’s mania or hypomania, you can ensure your teen’s safety by following the above suggestions. Be sure to have the support of a mental health professional if your teen is having difficulty coping with the symptoms of Bipolar.