Bipolar Disorder

February 28 2019

This week’s tip is about Bipolar Disorder (what we used to call Manic Depression). Bipolar Disorder is a brain condition that is usually diagnosed in early adulthood (the average age of onset is 25), but there are plenty of cases of teenagers and even younger children who have been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. I think almost every adult on this campus has encountered a hormonal teenager who appears to shift from happy to sad in the blink of an eye. However, just because a teenager’s mood seems to shift from one extreme to the other does not mean they are exhibiting signs of Bipolar Disorder. According to this article from NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health): “Bipolar disorder is not the same as the normal ups and downs every kid goes through. Bipolar symptoms are more powerful than that. The mood swings are more extreme and are accompanied by changes in sleep, energy level, and the ability to think clearly. Bipolar symptoms are so strong, they can make it hard for a child to do well in school or get along with friends and family members. The illness can also be dangerous. Some young people with bipolar disorder try to hurt themselves or attempt suicide.”

I thought this graphic, which was found in an article written by David J. Miklowitz, PhD on, was a great way to show you the difference in healthy teenage behavior versus a teenager who is exhibiting symptoms of Bipolar Disorder. Please reach out to me if you have any questions about Bipolar Disorder or if you have specific concerns about any of your students.

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