July 26th, 2010
11:48 AM ET

Bipolar answers for kids tough to find

Dr. Charles Raison, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University, offers thoughts today on new research on diagnosing bipolar disorder in children. Every Tuesday, he answers viewer questions on mental health on CNNHealth.com.

I get a lot of reader questions on bipolar disorder, particularly bipolar in children. In fact in May we had quite an interesting conversation about whether bipolar disorder can really be diagnosed in young children and the stress and guilt that parents feel in these situations.

A new study touches upon this very issue:  How reliably bipolar disorder can be diagnosed in young people before the development of clear-cut disease symptoms (for example a full-blown mania).

Here is the problem: Looking back into the childhoods of people with bipolar disorder, one typically finds all sorts of early warning signs of future trouble, such as mood swings, depression, attention deficit type symptoms, aggression, etc. On the other hand, if we rounds up children or adolescents with these symptoms and follow them into adulthood, only a minority will go on to develop bipolar disorder. It’s a case of hindsight being 20-20, but of course from a medical point of view we’d like some way of identifying at-risk individuals ahead of time with enough accuracy to justify early interventions.

Researchers from Australia have just published findings directly relevant to this question in The Journal of Affective Disorders. They reported that by applying a set of criteria based on family history, age and present symptoms they were able to identify young people who were 100 times more likely than those without these risk factors to develop a full mania over the next year.

This sounds very promising until one looks a little closer at the article. It turns out that the young people identified as being at risk were already fairly close to meeting criteria for bipolar disorder. And even in this extremely high risk group, only 22 percent went on to develop clear-cut bipolar disorder. This means that even in the highest risk group imaginable, three-quarters did not progress to full disease, at least over close to a year’s follow-up.

So, I would suggest that this really highlights both the importance of accurate diagnoses on the one hand, and the risks of “jumping the gun” on the other and applying labels prematurely. What we can say for sure is that all children and adolescents with behavioral/emotional difficulties should be helped as quickly and as fully as possible, because these types of problems are so horrible in the present that they do not require prognosticating about the future to justify their treatment.

soundoff (59 Responses)
  1. Dave

    Whenever I look for answer to being bipolar I always start off with an upbeat attitude, but by the time I am near an answer I am all pissed off and stuff and give up.

    July 26, 2010 at 12:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jane

      Try OMEGA 3's as CJ below mentioned. I have seen good results as well. It truly works with NO side effects and it actually has a great many other benefits as well.

      August 11, 2010 at 15:02 | Report abuse |
  2. fudgetucker

    99% of the US is bipolar...the other 1% is simply nutz!!!

    July 26, 2010 at 13:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. William T.

    As a mental health professional working with children in acute psychiatric settings, I am delighted to see this article. Many children come to treatment with an expectation that Bipolar Disorder is the underlying problem. The treatments for this condition are not innocuous, and should be reserved only for those children for whom substantial evidence supports the diagnosis. Childhood Bipolar Disorder does exist, but is far less common than the public assumes. This article does a good job of laying out the issues confronting a clinician in an easily understood fashion.

    July 26, 2010 at 13:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mk

      I have experience with helping someone with a daughter who was clearly bipolar and I would have to agree that the treatment is not healthy and should be avoided if possible. Most all of the medication come with significant risks/long term effects and will eventually be useless and need to be rotated once the body adjusts. It is a VERY hard condition to treat, but truly if a severe case is going to succeed in being a successful member of society, THE PATIENT MUST accept the reality and the need to stay medicated and to understand what THEIR signs and symptoms are of the medication no longer being effective. If it can be treated without medication wonderful ... if not, then acceptance, understanding and setting realistic expectations for the lifelong condition is KEY !

      July 26, 2010 at 15:55 | Report abuse |
  4. 1960mom

    I wonder with thyroid disease on the rise in this country, which is sometimes attributed to poor diet, whether or not these children are suffering from a hormonal imbalance. Thyroid disease symptoms are OFTEN mistaken for bipolar or psychological disorders. The drug used to treat hypothyroidism is the 4th most prescribed drug in the US.

    July 26, 2010 at 14:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dr. H.

      Part of the medical work-up to rule out Bipolar Disorder includes checking thyroid hormone levels.

      July 26, 2010 at 15:30 | Report abuse |
  5. Terry C.

    As a parent of a 20 something with Bipolar issues and with dealing with an ex-wife who's Bipolar wasn't dianosed until she was 30. The true challenge is to understand what is going on, your told your kid has ADD and you work through different ways to treat that. Of course, it doesn't work and you get flashs where you think you made head way and it goes no where but frustration. Now that my kid is out of the public school system the rules change and so does the coverage. End result is that you must except that your in this alone and my kid has to learn to deal with the sprial of depression and the fact he has to second guess his own thoughts at times. People live with this affliction and we must do the same. Lack of mental health treatment and education is a cancer that is going untreated and is growing in our society. If left unchecked, it will grow into this country's next big epidemic.

    July 26, 2010 at 14:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Diane

    So where's the article? What good is the original post without the data he refers to??? What are the criteria the researchers found. As the parent of a bipolar child who is now a bipolar adult, I am always looking for more information about this terrible disease.

    July 26, 2010 at 14:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Jane

    I am very concerned about all bipolar diagnoses. It is my unprofessional observation that a lot of people are being diagnosed based on unscientific criteria (the DSM, for example, is mostly art, accomplished by a vote of mental health elites). In fact, I've been a manager in two large organizations, and I've seen a lot of people that I don't think are bipolar being diagnosed as such. It's almost being used as one of those "spectrum" diagnoses, much like autism, that groups a lot of people under one category that doesn't necessarily fit them all. Most troubling, the girlfriend of a family member recently told me that her son, who becomes angry and never learned self-control so he screams, was just diagnosed, so now he's applied for a social security check so he won't have to work. This is out-of-control, since I know professionals who are clearly "real" bipolars and who work and manage their disease. I agree with William T. that childhood bipolar is far less common than assumed, and I would go so far as to suggest that it's not as common among adults as is being presented to the public.

    July 26, 2010 at 14:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rebecca

      I agree. I have a son who I took to have evaluated at 3 for speech and developmental issues. I was told by a child psychiatrist (who I later found out specialized in bipolar d/o in children) that he was bipolar. I immediately took him for a second opinion, followed by two more independent evaluations and these 3 professionals all dx him with an autism spectrum d/o. I can't imagine if I had listed to that first nut we saw.

      July 26, 2010 at 16:40 | Report abuse |
    • gretchen

      Your little remark: ">...It is my unprofessional observation that a lot of people are being diagnosed based on unscientific criteria (the DSM, for example, is mostly art, accomplished by a vote of mental health elites). In fact, I've been a manager in two large organizations, and I've seen a lot of people that I don't think are bipolar being diagnosed as such. ...<

      You are NOT a health professional, and you admit it yet, you you have the utter gall to claim that you've "seen a lot of people that I don't think are bipolar being diagnosed as such" is absolutely horrendous. I truly pity anyone who works for you, with THAT attitude.

      July 26, 2010 at 23:04 | Report abuse |
    • Claire

      @ gretchen, I am a trained scientific researcher and counselor, and I know science when I see it. I am licensed, but not as a psychiatrist. Thanks for sharing.

      July 27, 2010 at 01:14 | Report abuse |
  8. Teri

    Jane – you are absolutely correct. My ex-husband always had problems with his temper and I firmly believe those issues go back to his childhood and the lack of appropriate discipline. I say "appropriate discipline" because everything was scrutinized and it was the parents way or the highway. He learned to be a "yes man" and never learned to deal with stress or how to handle life without someone telling him exactly what to do. In his mid-20's he was diagnosed as bi-polar. I personally don't believe he is, but he has used that as a crutch for the past 15 years and as a excuse for irresponsible and inappropriate behavior. It is over-diagnosed way too much these days. Same as autism and ADHD has been during the 90's and early 2000's.

    July 26, 2010 at 15:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Claire

      Yes, and I think labeling can be problematic, especially for kids, who then feel pigeon-holed. And human nature has one try to justify one's behavior, so having a "reason" from a "professional" can become a cop-out for some. And many parents and other powerful role models don't have a grasp on healthy behaviors themselves. I am concerned about our tendency to drug first. Drugs can be life-savers for some, but we have more questions than answers at this point.

      July 27, 2010 at 01:34 | Report abuse |
  9. Hilary Smith

    As the author of a book on bipolar disorder for teens (but not a doctor myself) I find the thought of "jumping the gun" with a bipolar diagnosis very distressing. Merely getting a diagnosis of bipolar disorder can be such a stressful experience, and it's impossible to "take back" all the worry and grief that a kid or teen experiences when someone tells her she has bipolar if the diagnosis turns out to be false. Kids with emotional problems should have help and support, but maybe diagnosing them with bipolar isn't the kind of help they need.

    July 26, 2010 at 15:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Dee

    Ive been with my husband for 13 years and he wasn't diagnosed with bipolar disorder until the age of 23. Maybe I am a little naive, but type 2 bipolar disorder is very easily detected (especially when untreated). He is a totally different person without his medication ( goes days without sleeping, has grandiose behaviors and then becomes very distant). He doesnt always remember what he goes through and has never used his illness as an excuse. Its disturbing to hear that it is provided as a diagnostic to those with behavioral issues. It is far more than that. We now have children and worry about whether they may have bipolar disorder as well. I can never find any cut and dry advice. I guess I will continue to do my research...just in case.

    July 26, 2010 at 15:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Claire

      @ Dee, this is what I was getting at. There are those who clearly meet the criteria, and it's frightening to think others who may have different mental disorders or who exhibit unhealthy learned behavior patterns may be wrongly diagnosed and treated. Especially kids!

      July 27, 2010 at 01:43 | Report abuse |
    • Lisa Johnson

      Time magazine had an article about 2 years ago about the genetic tendencies of bipolar in families. It said from generation to generation the signs tend to show up earlier in life and with stronger signs. My son is adopted and we have no family history so our psychiatrist is very reluctant to label our son BP until he completes puberty.

      July 27, 2010 at 22:13 | Report abuse |
  11. Linda

    I can not tell today at the age of 22 my daughter was ever bi-polar. Although, at the age of 7 she was diagnosed with depression and panic attacks. At age 13 it had progressed and the stuff "regular" teens do she was not doing. She ended up in a mental hospital for children where she was firmly diagnosed bi-polar with several medication changes. I never did anything different, no IEP in school, no special treatment, no social security. Just made sure she took her meds and continued to disapline / reward as usual. Today at 22 she shows no signs of bi-polar disorder. Does this mean the medication she was given at a young age warded off the dreaded full blown mania or depression? Not sure, but I'm grateful for the information provided from the medical community in this article and others I have referred to.

    July 26, 2010 at 15:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • NCBiPo

      Linda, for those that truly have bipolar, it doesn't just "go away" – it's a condition for life that we have to learn to manage. There are most certainly varying degrees, but I would be wary of anyone who suggests that your daughter has had a recovery, as well as the initial diagnosis if you say she has undergone a radical change toward the positive in recent years *if* she truly is bipolar. Bipolar condition is a lifelong thing, so it's worth investigating whether your daughter's condition was correctly analyzed and whether it is being adequately treated, or whether it was something else altogether.

      July 27, 2010 at 02:48 | Report abuse |
  12. Kat

    I was diagnosed 23 years ago at the age of 12. I am glad my Dr. took the time to figure it out. I am sure without medication I would really be a mess!!

    July 26, 2010 at 15:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Dawna

    I am a parent of a bipolar child and bipolar myself. I remember my symptoms going back to elementary school. When I was finally diagnosed, it was such a relief to know what was happoening. It was so hard to watch my almost 12 year old go through it and be temporaility institutionalized. She had begun cutting because she could not handle the "feelings" or "emotions" that go along with this illness. I will not let her suffer as I did. She is getting both medication and behavorial therapy. We are learning how to properly handle/release our emotions. I do agree that there are many that are overdiagnosed – but in some cases, it is really happening. It is not an excuse or a way to seek attention (as some claim). My daughter even knows people now that are cutting to be with the "in" crowd.
    I am just hoping by catching this early – she will not have to deal with some of the hardships that I have endured.

    July 26, 2010 at 16:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Derek Rubin

    This is just another example of how overmedicated American society is. Has anyone considered how many perfectly regular children, maybe a bit moody with some mood swings, would be able to fit the criteria perfectly for having bipolar, depression, or anxiety by these drug-peddling psychiatrists? You see, it's a a self-fulfilling prophecy. Now instead of being a "moody child" your bipolar, something is wrong with you, and you should just take those pills down with a smile on your face. Do you all realize that most of these psychiatric drugs are only given 6-week trials before hitting the market? They have no idea what these medications due to your brain, given six months, a year, two years, let alone a child! Today's children are their guinea pigs.

    July 26, 2010 at 16:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. AloneWithTheInvisible

    As yet another parent with a bi-polar child, I am very disappointed at the amount of commentary saying that most cases are nothing more than poor discipline and bad behavior. Oh, that it were that simple!

    My child has been a terror to herself and others almost from birth. She never slept until the doctors prescribed some mild sedatives. From the time she could walk, we had to lock away everything even remotely possible of causing harm because she never stopped going for the sharp, the flammable or the poisonous. Jumpping off high places to see what would happen (multiple times, even after getting hurt badly), chopping off hair at random (still does it and now cuts herself to the point she cannot leave the house because they are so visible), setting fires for the fun of it, and now drugs and scary "friends".

    The official diagnosis is Type I Cyclothymic, along with some ODD, OCD, ADHD and Borderline Personality DIsorder. All the doctors want to do is medicate and wait. Meanwhile, she has physically destroyed my home's interior and has been to jail already for assaulting me. She has gone from a dancer and model to some grotesque thing that thinks shaving her eyebrows off, painting in dayglo yellow replacements and wearing a swimsuit to the mall is perfectly natural for a non-famous kid. (Yes, I know Lady Gaga does it and I firmly believe that woman is a few eggs short of a dozen, too).

    I was told to dump her at an ER and tell them to call one of the residential care hospitals to evaluate her. Of course, despite the law, most insurance companies will not cover care if I do that. I know mine won't-I have to get permission to have an emergency (precertification required or it is considered a non-network episode).

    So, those of you who think kids are faking the disorder for attention, I will be more than happy for you to take her for a week so I can come home without fearing what I will find and maybe take care of repairing the holes in the walls, getting the dyes out of the carpets and getting rid of all the junk she hordes.

    July 26, 2010 at 17:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MB

      People that have never dealt with a mentally ill child always resort to "its the parents" or "its lack of discipline". They do not understand what the parents of these children go through. Im so sorry that you are dealing with this.

      My 7 year old was FINALLY diagnosed as "possible" bi-polar since they can not definitively say he is bi-polar at that age. He is responding very well to the meds. The destructive, homicidal/suicidal, violent, manic behaviors have all subsided with the meds after about 4 months. Hes not hearing voices anymore or paranoid. It was so very hard to live like that the last three years, especially this last year. I called mental health to come pick him up because he was so out of control and they said they were busy. WOW! With meds and in home services he is a new child.

      My thoughts and prayers go out to you that you get the help you and your daughter need.

      July 26, 2010 at 22:38 | Report abuse |
    • Essence

      Superior thininkg demonstrated above. Thanks!

      September 15, 2011 at 23:18 | Report abuse |
  16. Sondra

    I appreciate the critics in this audience, although this is a complex topic. I think the problem with the diagnosis of bipolar is both on the receiving and judging ends, and societal anomie contributes to the compartmentalization of people into predefined categories instead of nurturing and supporting their innate abilities. For example, I am a real fan on the Montessori school system and similar schools for this reason. Otherwise, apart from extreme cases, I am an opponent of the medications..they have never helped me much, and some of them, such as Lithium and Xyprexa deteriorate the central nervous system, the kidneys, and can cause irreversible liver disease and degenerations such as Tardif Diskinesia, even after short treatments they often have lifelong side affects. Just a word of caution to the wise.

    July 26, 2010 at 17:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • max

      If you are worried about this, elsape talk to somebody. If you’re good at hiding your true feelings, there’s a chance that nobody knows how you feel, and it’s not good to keep those feelings bottled up. Whether you talk to your parents, another relative, a friend, or a school counselor, it’s good to talk to someone. It sounds to me like you want to talk to somebody, and I know it can be scary, but the fact that you’re reaching out to us shows that you are ready to reach out to those around you, whether you realize it or not. I know what it’s like to hurt people, and I wish I would have talked to somebody sooner. Even if you think you’re just hurting yourself, that it turn hurts those that care about you, that’s how I hurt my family and friends. Just because nobody in your family has anything like this, doesn’t mean that you don’t. Just like if somebody in your family did have something it wouldn’t mean that you would too. I know it can be harder if you’re family doesn’t understand, but I know that you can do it.

      April 8, 2012 at 13:37 | Report abuse |
  17. Sara

    I am glad that professionals are being urged to use caution in treating a young person for bi-polar disorder. In my own case if it wasn't for a bad reaction to lithium as a teenager, it may have taken a long time before I was diagnosed with the seizures. Fortunately for me, have people jump the gun and overmedicate me – worked out in my favor! That's true irony.

    July 26, 2010 at 18:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. John

    At 21 I had a severe manic breakdown. I remember a doctor telling me I was "manic depressive" and prescibed Lithium. I fought this, did not take my medication and suffered another worse breakdown. Initially I was sent to a community hospital in Cambridge, Mass. but then transferred to a state hospital. In total I spent six months in both hospitals. I began to take the lithium regularly and was symptom free for thirty-four years. It's not something you tell anyone, because of the stigma of mental illness and no one except a bipolar person who's been manic could understand. I tended to be more manic than depressive. The actual manic breakdown is an unforgettable experience. More unreal -, but seemingly real – than any drug trip. More ironically, my high school psych class had taken a field trip to the state hospital when I was a senior. I wound up there. Now at age 54 my condition has become more depressive, I can't work and have been forced to apply for Social Security Disability. Bipolar is considered a disability. Recently I went before a judge at hearing and await the results. The odd thing is if you ever met me you would have no idea.

    July 26, 2010 at 18:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ini

      There are no clinical tests for any of these metanl illnesses they are all diagnosed based on behavioral traits, all collected in the DSM billing manual. Psychiatrists have absolutely no idea how these medications work, how they affect any given individual. You may as well play russian roulette with your mind. Psychiatric drugs are a joke. Psychiatry is a scam. Anti psychotics cause tardive dyskinesia, way more debilitating than bi polar!/watch?v=W_3bbpFjI68

      September 12, 2012 at 05:31 | Report abuse |
    • Arada

      If you are worried about this, peasle talk to somebody. If you’re good at hiding your true feelings, there’s a chance that nobody knows how you feel, and it’s not good to keep those feelings bottled up. Whether you talk to your parents, another relative, a friend, or a school counselor, it’s good to talk to someone. It sounds to me like you want to talk to somebody, and I know it can be scary, but the fact that you’re reaching out to us shows that you are ready to reach out to those around you, whether you realize it or not. I know what it’s like to hurt people, and I wish I would have talked to somebody sooner. Even if you think you’re just hurting yourself, that it turn hurts those that care about you, that’s how I hurt my family and friends. Just because nobody in your family has anything like this, doesn’t mean that you don’t. Just like if somebody in your family did have something it wouldn’t mean that you would too. I know it can be harder if you’re family doesn’t understand, but I know that you can do it.

      September 14, 2012 at 03:25 | Report abuse |
  19. nomoregobldgk

    There is no such thing as Bipolar Disorder in Children.

    July 26, 2010 at 19:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • NCBiPo

      Absolute and utter bullSh&%t. I was bipolar by the time I was 12, yet am now living a perfectly normal life even though my pre- and teen years were hell on earth. If you're going to make stupid statements like this, at least *try* to back them up with science, proven fact, or a reference or two. Moron.

      July 27, 2010 at 02:53 | Report abuse |
  20. pandasparent

    Any child with symptoms appearing to be a "mental disorder" should rule out infections such as strep, Mycoplasma Pneumonia, and Lyme. PANDAS and PITAND symptoms can mimic those of bipolar. A good number of kids with PANDAS have been misdiagnosed as bipolar prior to PANDAS diagnosis.

    July 26, 2010 at 19:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Bob

    Doctors should be trained to tell the difference between Bi-Polar and Depression. When they give AD's to them, too much serotonin could put them in a manic phase. Only qualified Drs with mental health experience or psychiatrists should be prescribing drugs for mental illness. Need to be double careful with children.. When it comes to depression in children drug therapy should be tried LAST! Train MD's in holistic/nondrug therapies. The side-effects of these meds are wicked, sometimes they can be addicting! More research needs to be done with giving children psycho-active medicines! Drs need to be retaught! before more teens comitt suicide because of these drugs.

    July 26, 2010 at 20:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Snoflinga

    I am 34 and bipolar, diagnosed about 5 years ago. When I think back about my childhood, I can remember 2 stable and loving parents, a nice home, good schools. I had pets, clean clothes, friends, summer camp. And I am overwhelmed when I remember how miserable I was. Even the memory of it makes my stomach tighten, to think about the sadness and fear and desperation and anxiety I felt all. the. time. I knew I was always different. I had trouble controlling my emotions and they never seemed to fit the situation. Nothing was ever right. I know this frustrated my parents to tears and I tried so hard to just be calm and happy. But it was like I was living in a parallel world that was invisible to them. They never got why I was so upset and had me figured for wanting atention. I got into trouble self-medicating by 9, skipping school by 14, cutting by 16. I remember trying to break my leg with a hammer one day. By the grace of God I made it through high school AND college, and I am now a stable married wife, mother and employee. When my meds are off I still go days without sleeping. Or briefly catch glimpses of things that I know aren't really there. Or have panic attacks. Or think I can do amazing things I can't really do. And it reminds me of what childhood was like. I'm so, so grateful now to have a diagnosis, know what is going on and how to handle it.
    Best of luck to everyone.

    July 27, 2010 at 01:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. NCBiPo

    Snoflinga, I experience(d) many of the same things as you. My first suicide attempt was at age 12, but it was less an attempt than a "let's see what this feels like" moment with a razor blade, and I was promptly institutionalized until age 17 by well-meaning parents who were out of their depth. I was diagnosed with simple depression as these events occurred in the '80's where there wasn't a notion that kids could suffer from bipolar disorder. After 4 years of live-in treatment, I was then counseled by a quack state psychiatrist that I would never make it through university because I couldn't make it in the "real" world. I'm happy to say that I now hold a bachelor, 2 master, and 1 ABD PhD degree after being correctly diagnosed and very lightly medicated 8 years ago. However, I would suggest that parents and professionals take the signs above (correctly reported, by the way) seriously, even though you shouldn't restrict or condone your child to a diagnoses such as this without professional help. Trust me, it is traumatic to be diagnosed with BP, but it is equally traumatic to be misdiagnosed or undiagnosed. Frankly, BP is nothing more than a prognosis similar to diabetes – our brains are missing a common chemical, and when properly treated, we're as normal (or even more so) than most.

    July 27, 2010 at 02:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. CJ

    I am bi-polar. I have had very severe symptoms since I was a teen. I have family members who have suffered death and worse because of DRUG "treatment". I tried these "treatments" out of absolute desperation. I was the worst thing I ever did in my life. Most of these drugs did not help, others had vicious side effects and made my symptoms much, much worse. Lithium worked. It was a blessing. I was on it twice, but after about a year the side effects were killing me. I had to stop.

    After trying every Rx solution that might work, my doctor and I went for an experimental treatment of Omega 3 fatty acids. IT WORKS PERFECTLY! I have been on this treatment for more than three years now ( more than twice as long as Lithium) and it works much, much better. However this treatment does not work if the dosage is less that 5.6 GRAMS. I have tried reducing and discontinuing in hope that I have been cured. I'm not cured and it doesn't work in smaller doses. Also, I have had bad experiences with companies that change their formula ( reducing Omega 3) without making significant changes to the label. According to the Harvard study that we used to determine the dosage the EPA and DHA have to be in the correct ratio. I have seen other studies and products that are experimenting with these ratios and also with ALA, but I am afraid to mess with what works.

    I strongly suggest that anyone dealing with these issues research and find out about Omega 3 therapy. IT WORKS! but only if you do it right. And, you have to get Omega 3 that is tested for mercury, lead, cadmium, and PCBs. It should say NO DETECTABLE LEVELS.

    July 27, 2010 at 09:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jane

      Thats wonderful CJ. The Pharmaceutical companies are responsible for NOT getting the word out about natural supplements that work for MANY people. They are in bed with the politicians. They would much rather have people be on damaging mind-altering medication that does NOT fully treat a person than anything natural and safe that works. I have seen this as well.

      KEEP IT UP! Encourage everyone you see to try it. Get the word out. Screw the pharma companies. They have killed MILLIONS so that they can make BILLIONS of dollars. It is downright demonic. No other way to describe it.

      August 11, 2010 at 14:59 | Report abuse |
  25. CJ

    Another thing that really helped me was when I went to a doctor of chinese medicine. He told me that there is no such thing a "mental Illness" that "mental illness" is always a symptom and the result of physical illness. He told me my problems were the result of my lifelong battle with Asthma. He was difficult to understand and I did not immediately see the "mind/body connection". After reading about sleep apnea, I realized that I had most of the symptoms. I was sleeping 14 hours at a time and waking up more tired than when I went to sleep. I went to see a pulmonologist who specialized in sleep disorders. I was immediately diagnosed with a sleep dysfunction caused by nighttime asthma attacks. This problem is one I still struggle with daily but I have been able to make great progress since getting a proper diagnosis and getting caught up on some real sleep.

    So if you are dealing with any "mental illness" you really should look for physical illness also. Start with the obvious. Is the person eating right? responding to food well? do they breathe OK? Do they sleep? Do they wake up well-rested? Are there chronic pain issues? Are there Rx drugs involved? are the results positive? Are they self medicating? Does it help? if so, why?

    I sure hope this helps somebody. GOOD LUCK ALL!

    July 27, 2010 at 09:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Danielle

    I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was 21. Looking back, there were so many "signs" but no one really paid them any mind. My parents just thought I was "acting like a teenager". Part of me thinks they were in denial because no one wants to admit something like this is something their child struggles with. I also think some parents are afraid of the diagnosis. No one wants the stigma of being considered "bad parents". For example, my step sister's 28 year old son has never received adequate treatment and she thinks he is just "crazy". She doesn't understand why he can't just get over it because she doesn't take the time to educate herself. It hurts me to even hear her talk about him because she refuses to accept any responsibility, even though the professionals in his juvenile detention center told her he needed to start seeing someone. Every mental health patient has different needs to become a contributing member to society. It is the child's parents' responsibility to take control of the situation and unfortunately, so many parents don't believe in psych meds or are afraid of "overmedicating" their child – at the child's expense.

    I am extremely lucky to have an excellent support system. I'm 25 and I will be the first to admit every day is NOT perfect. I stay on top of my treatment because I've learned (the hard way) what happens when I don't take care of myself. It is hard for friends and family members to understand why I've made certain decisions however this is a learning process for all of us and will be until the day I die.

    July 27, 2010 at 11:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kali

      that you should talk to smbdooey. It sounds like that’s what you want to do but that you feel like you’re parents have dismissed you in the past and you don’t feel comfortable trying to talk to them again. I would probably feel the same way in your situation. If you can find smbdooey like a school counselor or teacher, another adult relative you feel comfortable with, or even one of your friend’s parents that you can talk to, that might be a good idea. From there you can ask them to help you, and maybe they can help you talk to your parents and get you to a counselor or psychiatrist; this will be easier if your parents are there to support you. I suggest this first because counselors aren’t free. If there is nobody else that you can talk to, then by all means see if you can get a hold of a counselor who is willing to take some time to talk to you for a little bit without payment and then maybe they can help you talk to your parents. Even though counselors need to make a living, they are first and foremost there to help you. I am glad to hear that you have never attempted suicide and I truly hope that you never do. Please, if you feel like you want to end your life then go to the hospital or call 911. I won’t lie and say that things will be better right away; you might have to spend some time in the hospital, but look at Demi Lovato and how much better she is doing after spending time getting help. I too have been in the hospital and used to s/h. There is no shame in asking for help, and don’t ever forget that you are not alone. Each and every one of you on here will be in my thoughts.

      April 8, 2012 at 09:15 | Report abuse |
  27. lizarde

    The problem is not underdiagnosing or overdiagnosing but the complete and total lack of adequate mental health care in this country. My crappy insurance makes me pay $30 a visit to see my therapist and it's going up to $40 a visit, and I'm one of the lucky ones with insurance. Absolutely no reputable psychiatrist in Austin will even take insurance, so I have to fork over for hundreds of dollars a visit so I can get my prescription. But I do it because I was raised by a doctor and know how important it is for me to stay on my meds. As I result I do productive work and pay taxes. I wonder how many people in my position would even bother when it costs so much, especially since bipolar people don't tend to be very good at living within their means to begin with. And then they can't function. What a waste of humanity.

    July 27, 2010 at 12:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. native

    Husband was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 two years ago at age 37, after years (practically his whole life) of battling depression, alcoholism, drug ause, self medicating and cutting. He is able to work and manage his life and his bipolar after finally finding the right combination of meds. Our son, age 15 was diagnosed last month. His symptoms or signs were basically the same as his fathers in addition to taking life threatening risks. He is now on meds & doing better, has a girlfriend who is aware and accepting of the diagnosis. Believe me the guilt and frustration is real when you see someone suffering so badly and you don't know how to help. We felt terrible that our son was passed this disease, went for four different opinions before putting him on the meds, but at least he was diagnosed earlier and will not have to suffer until he's almost 40. This summer has been his time for "healing his brain" as he refers to it & he will be able to manage his disease and his life & finish his education.

    July 27, 2010 at 12:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. mslexie

    I never even heard of bi-polar disorder until my ex husband got arrested and he was diagnosed with it. Then, come to find out, he's had relatives be commited, commit suicide. I alway thought my daughter acted like him but figured it was just a personality trait that she inherited. I went through so many difficult years being married to him and raising her and not knowing what the heck to do. I always said being married to him was like being on a roller coaster. One extreme to the other. My daughter tried to commit suicide and still has mania attacks like you wouldn't believe. I wish that she had been diagnosed at an earlier age so at could have at least learned how to deal with it and not necessarily with drugs. My life has been hell because I could not get any drs to figure out what the heck was wrong with her. Now, I see my granddaughter doing some things that are like my ex and her mother and I worry that if she if bi polar, she won't get the proper diagnosis and help. Anyone that lives with a bi polar person will know what I'm talking about when it comes to their manic episodes. My ex and my daughters manifest as ranting and screaming and many times they can't even remember what they did. It is like something sets them off and it just comes out of some really dark part of their brain. I hate it. My ex can't hold down a job and my daughter can't handle the stress of motherhood and everyday life. I help her as much as possible. I don't think they should be on ssi but they truly have a hard time dealing with the stresses of everyday life. I wish I had known about my ex's bi polar disorder because I would never have married him or procreated with him. My life has had to revolve around my daughter and believe me most has not been pleasant. I know that sounds harsh as a mother but the stress of it all is so overwhelming it is unimaginable. I wish there was some way to bring relief to the people with bi polar and for their families. My youngest daughter had to move out because she couldn't handle the stress of living with her sister. As a mother, that was quite possibly the hardest thing of all. So all you naysayers out there need to come and walk in my shoes and see what you think about bi polar disorder.

    July 27, 2010 at 16:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. max

    Doctors do not treat patients anymore. They look for symptoms of a long term illness that they can treat, so you will have yto come back for more sessions, and get prescribed drugs that he gets kickbacks from. Did children have bipolar desease 20 years ago? How many of these new deseases are found through "a new study"? All these new deseases and drugs qare a bunch of BS. Medicine is no longer a practice, it's a messy drug pushing industry backed by our government. If you think it's not true...ask yourself this: When was the last time a drug company found a "new drug" that cured something? Enough said.

    July 27, 2010 at 18:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Snoflinga

      I had bipolar, as a child, 20 years ago. But no one knew what to call it then. And I didn't get any help for it. My family and I both went through so much pain and struggle what we could have been spared if we had only had the right medications, like I have now. If the new studies you distrust so much had been done 20 years earlier, maybe I'd have some happy memories of my childhood.

      July 28, 2010 at 13:19 | Report abuse |
    • sadlady

      MAX yes , my child had bi-polar 20 years ago. It was not diagnosed correctly. If it had been she might not have suffered so badly and might still be alive. What might have been is a terrible thought process.Mental health medicine has progressed much as heart medicine has .Much more to go though.I've seen this disease in parent and child. Primative meds,untreated and treated .

      August 7, 2010 at 18:39 | Report abuse |
  31. Chris

    It would have been a God send to have had effective treatment for the debilitating depression (read – severe pain) I experienced for years and years. My parents had no where to turn to find out why I was so very sad, withdrawn and found no enjoyment in anything from a very early age. The suicide attempts nearly broke their hearts. Not every bipolar child is "wild". That is a severe misconception. Depression accounts for at least 75% of the time a person with bipolar on the average spends ill. My first hypomainia occurred when I was put on antidepressants. It took much trial and error to find the right med combination to bring any relief. Every depressed or possibly manic child needs to be thoroughly evaluated (history, physical and all other causes ruled out).
    I am a professional, and have a very understanding and patient husband that recognizes this as the brain disease that it is. I was always a hard working student, but there were many periods that words on a page were just sqiggley black lines that were uncomprehensible. Treatment is expensive and not without side effects, but is essential. Yes, I would prefer I didn't have to take meds, live with the stigma and be very careful to avoid stress, but the alternative is so much worse. Leaving your family a legacy of suicide was something I couldn't grasp the horror of until I was nearly 50. Mood stabilizers are not addictive, as some posters say. My children were raised for years with a depressed mother, so I felt they were deprived of much of their childhood, but it has made them stronger adults, too. It is possible to get better. Thank God for such hard working and dedicated physicians that have worked with me over the years to get to this point. Thank God for such a wonderful and supportive family.

    August 4, 2010 at 22:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Steph

    The title for this article needs to be rewritten. It is grammatically incorrect.

    August 11, 2010 at 14:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Polaco

      I was in the NAVY for 7 years on submarines got out wokred for NCR then was hit in the rear at 55 mph and left me totality disabled I had a surgery to repair ruptured disc in low back Died during surgery was brought back spent 7 days in crit care. I woke up with Bi-Polar Manic Depression Disorder and schizophrenic. I am on 800mg seraquel 4mg klopin 300mg zoloft and 7 meds for all my pain including 120mg morphine every 8 hours. which means 60mg in my blood every hour.I hope you get well

      September 11, 2012 at 07:02 | Report abuse |
  33. Kaman

    this was an amazing article. Dr. how do you feel about school/programs that help with troubled teens with bi-polar issues. I'm considering in enrolling my child into west ridge academy in utah.

    September 14, 2010 at 00:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Richard Waldman

    I believe we have entered a new era of understanding.

    A missing part of our education has been found. There is a reason why we humans, the most intelligent animal on the planet can be so extraordinary on one hand, and on the other, having to suffer, for example, the pangs of bipolar; a brain disorder that causes severe ups and downs that effect mood, energy, and ability to function.
    The reason can summed up this way. We humans pay a price for having a highly creative brain that has created, without our knowledge or permission, an image of who our brain thinks we are. This image (the ego) consists of our beliefs and has a gatekeeper, the “chatter in our head” whose purpose is to protect, and if necessary, to create new beliefs that support the ego’s agenda.

    The ego is clever, and knows that our intelligence affords us the opportunity, unlike other primates, to project into the future and past. Our chatter high-jacks this talent, turns it into a weapon and uses it against us. For example, our chatter loves to drag us into the future and beat us up with what-if questions, we can’t answer. “What if you fail, what if you’re rejected, what if you don’t get the job, what if, what if, what if?” When our chatter finishes, bouncing us up and down in the future, it will haul us into the past to remind us of our failures and mistakes, hoping we will slide further into the abyss, which raises a question. How do we manage this “thing in our head” that has run us all of our lives?

    Click on this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjA2Nr6LEZk to learn the answer.

    A note regarding the “chatter in our head.” Those taking a doctor prescribed drug(s) may not be aware the drug is intended to moderate the “chatter in their head.” Improper medication may turn up the volume. Patients, who are unaware of this fact, may attempt to quiet their “inner noise” through means that may have, unintended consequences.

    March 16, 2011 at 20:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. zortilonrel

    Thanks for the sensible critique. Me & my neighbor were just preparing to do a little research about this. We got a grab a book from our area library but I think I learned more clear from this post. I am very glad to see such excellent info being shared freely out there.


    December 16, 2020 at 06:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Europa-Road

    Your place is valueble for me. Thanks!…


    February 9, 2021 at 03:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. network installation

    Some truly excellent information, Gladiolus I discovered this. "To be conscious that we are perceiving or thinking is to be conscious of our own existence." by Aristotle.


    February 21, 2021 at 05:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. stornobrzinol

    As I website possessor I think the written content here is very wonderful, appreciate it for your efforts.


    May 16, 2021 at 17:54 | Report abuse | Reply

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.