Generally, bipolar disorder is seen in older teens and adults, but this doesn’t mean that it is something that can’t affect younger children as well. In fact, some children as young as six years old have been known to have bipolar disorder. There are many people who think that this disorder is being diagnosed far too often, and is not genuine for many people, while many others believe that many people are going undiagnosed for far too long. If your child has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and you have also gotten a second, collaborating opinion, you need to start working on a treatment plan, beginning with ensuring that you are going to be able to work with their health care provider.
Follow Medication Schedules
If your child has been prescribed medication for bipolar disorder, it is imperative that you follow the medication schedules as closely as possible. They need to have this medication regularly, so you need to come up with the best way to keep them on schedule. Use notes, pill boxes, timers, etc., or install a reminder app on their cell phone. Always discuss the medication schedule with teachers, as not all schools allow children to take medications without adult supervision.
Watch for Side Effects
It is important to learn everything you can about the medications that are prescribed to your children, especially medications for bipolar disorder. Remember, bipolar disorder is mainly diagnosed in adults, so the medications have been tested on adults, with only a few having been tested on children. These medications have some pretty serious side effects, and children are more prone to feeling these side effects than adults. Side effects can include, but are not limited to, weight gain, blood sugar changes, and high cholesterol. There is also an increased risk of suicide in children who are taking medications for bipolar disorder.
Set Established Routines
Everyone can benefit from having a daily schedule, but it is even more important for children who have bipolar disorder. Set routines for everything from getting up in the morning to when meals are served, when and how they get exercise, bed time rituals, and more. The more routine you can make things, the less stress there is going to be for the entire household. Make sure that you include all household members in the routines. This is going to help your child who has bipolar disorder, because they won’t be thinking that they have to do things differently from everyone else.
Get into Family Therapy
Speaking of the entire household, bipolar disorder doesn’t just affect the person who has it. This is a problem that can affect the whole family, and it can put a lot of stress on a marriage. Younger children may not understand what is going on, and it is important that they have a clear understanding of their sibling’s condition. Otherwise, they may end up resenting the fact that this sibling gets more attention than they do, and you are going to have even more issues to deal with. Finding a good family therapist can be the answer to having a happy household. They can help you to recognize any issues that could arise, and show you ways to deal with these issues.
Don’t Dismiss Threats of Suicide
Certain medications that are used to treat bipolar disorder can lead to thoughts of suicide. Unfortunately, far too many people end up acting on these thoughts, including children. If your child comes to you and says that they are considering suicide, do not dismiss them. This is something that you need to take very seriously. If there are any weapons in the home, or dangerous drugs that can be overdosed on, make sure that they are removed or at least put where your bipolar child cannot find them.