Bipolar disorder in children: Risk factors and symptoms

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness characterized by extreme swings in mood and thought. A person with bipolar disorder swings between periods of mania or less severe hypomania and depression.

The onset of bipolar disorder typically occurs during young adulthood, but teens and children can also be diagnosed.

Risk factors for bipolar in children

Upset and depressed child .

A person wth bipolar disorder will experience alternating phases of depression and mania.

Similarly to many mental health disorders, there are a number of potential causes of bipolar, with scientists unable to point to a single reason for it occurring.

Children are thought to be more at risk due to the following factors:

  • stress
  • genetics
  • drug and alcohol use
  • biology

Stress can play a role in the development of bipolar in children. More precisely, how a child responds to elevated stress has been suggested as a contributor to the development of bipolar disorder.

Therefore, children growing up in stressful situations may be at a higher risk of developing bipolar.

Genetics represents another risk factor for developing bipolar. A child who has a family member with bipolar may be more likely to develop the disorder. However, some research indicates that this is not a definite cause and effect, and a child with a parent with bipolar disorder may never develop the disease.

Use of drugs or alcohol may increase the chances of a child developing bipolar disorder. Some individuals with bipolar disorder have drug or alcohol addictions, as well.

Biological differences may also play a role in increasing the risk of developing bipolar disorder during childhood. Researchers have found there is a difference in the activities in the brains of children and adults who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

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