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Common Signs of Bipolar Symptoms in Teens

Roughly three percent of all teenagers in America are affected by bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that causes a person to experience extreme mood swings. These mood swings can include periods of extremely happy or euphoric behavior, followed by periods of deep depression. Both boys and girls can develop the symptoms of bipolar. However, teen girls have a somewhat higher level of risk than teen boys. In all cases, affected adolescents need the help of a bipolar disorder treatment program that supports their recovery. At Stonewater, we understand the telltale signs of bipolar disorder in teenagers. We also understand how to treat this disorder in teens with additional substance problems. Our customized approach maximizes the odds of recovery. Contact us today at 662.373.2828 to learn how we can help.

What Are the Symptoms of Bipolar in Teens – Episodes of Mania

Mania is the term for a highly excited and elevated mood that increases both mental and physical activity. All bipolar illnesses produce some degree of this heightened mood. In bipolar I disorder, episodes of mania take an extreme form. In bipolar II disorder and cyclothymia, they have a less severe impact. Teens and younger children can have symptoms of bipolar mania that look different than they do in adults. Things you may notice include:
  • Lengthy, intense periods of joy or happiness
  • Racing thoughts
  • Difficulty focusing on anything
  • Involvement in a high-risk, pleasurable activity
  • An absence of fatigue even when your teen doesn't sleep
  • Rapid speech and frequent changes in conversation topics
  • Extreme irritability
Some of these symptoms are common to teenagers in general. Others are similar to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). For these reasons, doctors sometimes find diagnosing manic symptoms of bipolar disorder in teens challenging.

Bipolar Symptoms in Teens – Episodes of Depression

Depressive episodes are the other half of the equation in bipolar illness. These episodes are severe enough for teens with bipolar I disorder to qualify as major depression. The same holds true for bipolar II disorder. The depression associated with cyclothymia is less severe.  If your teenager has a bipolar illness, they may be affected by a range of depression symptoms. Specific potential symptoms of bipolar depression include:
  • Frequent sadness that has no particular cause
  • A sense of worthlessness or helplessness
  • Eating more or less food than usual
  • Frequent headaches or bouts of stomach pain
  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of interest in activities they usually enjoy
  • Problems concentrating or focusing
  • Sleeping for more extended amounts of time than usual
  • Heightened feelings of hostility, anger, or irritability
  • Social withdrawal
  • Increased issues communicating with others
A teen with bipolar disorder may also have thoughts of dying. They may also think about committing suicide. Some affected teens follow through on their suicidal thoughts.

Substance Use and the Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Substance use is common among teenagers with bipolar disorder. This is true, in part, because affected teens may try to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. Existing substance problems may also increase the risk of bipolar disorder. No matter which condition arises first, one thing is certain. To recover, your child needs help for both substance use and bipolar disorder, not just one.

Get Help for Bipolar Symptoms in Teens at Stonewater

What are the symptoms of bipolar in teens? The characteristic effects of the disorder are episodes of mania and depression. Symptoms of these episodes can take a variety of forms. Accurate diagnosis is key to the effective treatment of bipolar disorder. At Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center, we feature dual diagnosis treatment for teen boys with bipolar illness. This treatment supports effective recovery from bipolar symptoms in teens. At the same time, it promotes effective recovery from substance use. To learn more about our specialized program, call us today at 662.373.2828.