At the Massachusetts Center for Adolescent Wellness, we understand the unique challenges that come with treating bipolar disorder in teenagers. The adolescent years are a tumultuous period filled with changes and growth. When a diagnosis of bipolar disorder is added to the mix, it can be overwhelming for both the teen and their family. But it’s important to remember that you’re not alone in this journey. With the right tools and support, treating bipolar disorder in adolescents can effectively manage symptoms and lead to a healthier, happier future. There’s always hope, even in the most challenging circumstances.
What Is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder, formerly referred to as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. The disorder is characterized by distinct periods of mania and depression, which can manifest in a variety of symptoms. Some of them include the following:
- An overly joyful or overexcited state
- Increased energy, activity, and restlessness
- Racing thoughts and fast-talking
- Poor judgment and reckless behavior
- A feeling of sadness, anxiousness, or emptiness
- Lack of energy
- Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
- Decreased enjoyment in favored activities
The key to treating bipolar disorder in teenagers is a combination of medication, psychotherapy, and a stable, understanding home environment.
Types of Bipolar Disorder
There are three main types of bipolar disorder:
- Bipolar I Disorder – These individuals have experienced at least one manic episode lasting a week or longer or severe enough to require hospitalization. They may also experience periods of major depression.
- Bipolar II Disorder – In this type, the person has never experienced a full-blown manic episode, but they have had at least one hypomanic episode and one major depressive episode.
- Cyclothymic Disorder – This type includes symptoms of both hypomania and depression, but they are less severe and may not meet the criteria for a hypomanic or depressive episode.
Bipolar disorder types can have characteristics such as rapid cycling, meaning someone experiences four or more mood episodes in a year or, separately, experiences psychosis during a mood episode. It’s essential to consult with a mental health professional for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan. It’s important to note that bipolar disorder can develop at any age, but it typically emerges in the late teens or early adulthood. However, childhood-onset is also becoming more recognized.
Treating Bipolar Disorder in Adolescents
Treating bipolar disorder in adolescents requires a comprehensive approach that addresses both the physical and emotional aspects of the disorder. The first step is to consult with a mental health professional who specializes in treating bipolar disorder. They will conduct a thorough evaluation to determine the best course of treatment for your teen, including medication management, psychotherapy, and family therapy.
Psychotherapy can help adolescents learn how to manage their mood swings, identify triggers, and develop coping strategies. Family therapy is also essential as it involves the entire family unit in understanding bipolar disorder and creating a supportive home environment for the teen.
It’s crucial to remember that treating bipolar disorder in teenagers is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Each individual may respond differently to treatment, and it’s essential to work closely with a mental health professional to find what works best for your teen.
Treating Bipolar Disorder at Massachusetts Center for Adolescent Wellness
At Massachusetts Center for Adolescent Wellness, we are committed to providing personalized care and support for adolescents grappling with bipolar disorder. We warmly invite you to reach out to us, start a conversation, and discover how we can be instrumental in your journey toward wellness.