June 11, 2005

Bipolar Disorder confused with ADHD in children

Suburban Chicago News came out with an interesting story recently of a young boy who was misdiagnosed with ADHD with depression. At age 6 Dakota was suffering from excessive mood swings that were leading him to often engage in violent behaviors. His mother, Jodi Thoms knew that her son needed help, but she was unsure of whether his diagnosis was correct. Jodi was sure that Dakota did not have ADHD. Eventually she found out that her son had bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder is often confused with other disorders due to the fact that it has many of the same symptoms as other mental ailments. It can be misdiagnosed as anything from schizophrenia to ADHD. That's without taking into consideration all of the depressive/mood disorders that it can be confused with. Yet there are several distinguishing factors that psychologists may use to produce the right diagnosis.

"Often confused with ADHD or depression, bipolar disorder is distinguished by a few factors. In manic states, a bipolar person's mind will race, often faster than the person can keep up with physically. He might have trouble concentrating or organizing thoughts. Sleep patterns will suffer. The person will want to sleep but won't need it. Teenagers with bipolar disorder may go days without sleep or need only a few hours of sleep a night and still be able to function, Sinnappan said. After a few days, the teen will become irritable and tired" (Kraft, Suburban Chicago News).

Distinguishing bipolar disorder from the many other disorders that are prevalent is an important part of the healing process. Once it is correctly diagnosed there is hope at the end of the tunnel for those who have bipolar disorder and for the parents of those undergoing this sometimes difficult journey.

"So despite the belief that bipolar disorder can't be cured, it can finally be controlled for some people. Dr. Sinnappan said it could take years of adjusting medications, but some patients go on to lead nearly controlled lives.'My fear was that he would never have a normal life, that he would never get to enjoy the things that other kids enjoyed,' Wieworka said. 'I didn't know how we were going to get him to adulthood.'

"I want people to know there is hope if they are living in the midst of it, that there is hope to some normalcy in life," she said. "They just have to hang on." (Kraft, Suburban Chicago News).

Make sure to have an experienced psychologist or psychiatrist diagnose your child if you think they may be suffering from bipolar disorder. Your clinician can help you develop the right treatment method for your child so that they can control their symptoms.

For more information about bipolar diagnosis and symptoms: http://www.moodswing.org/diagnosis.html

And for family members coping with having a loved one who suffers from bipolar disorder check out: http://www.moodswing.org/famcoping.htm

If you are in Illinois you may benefit from this support group sponsored by "Jodi Thoms [who]started a bipolar support group for parents of teens with the disorder. The group meets at 7 p.m. the first and third Monday of the month on the second floor of the medical office building at Linden Oaks Hospital. For information, call (815) 726-8355." (Kraft, Suburban Chicago News).

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