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What might be symptoms of bipolar disorder in a teen?

Look over the following characteristics associated with bipolar disorder. If your teen's behavior matches four or more, you should have him or her evaluated for bipolar disorder with a doctor.
  • explosive and frequent outbursts
  • chronic irritability—more irritability than peace or joy
  • cravings for carbohydrates and sweets
  • lack of interest in socializing with friends
  • rapidly changing moods lasting a few hours to a few days (a few days up and a few days down)
  • rapid jumps from project to project
  • excited speech patterns and chronic talking
  • chronic defiance
  • hyperactivity, agitation
  • inability to focus
  • aggression above and beyond that typical for age-level
  • impulsivity and reckless behaviors (such as jumping from the top of the stairs or trying to fly)
  • exaggerated beliefs about their own importance or skills
  • extreme beliefs (e.g. I'm more connected to God than others.)
After this period ends, your teen may either return to a calm and rational state or go into a depression. Sometimes, bipolar disorder is misdiagnosed as depression because the teen and parents don't report the above symptoms as problematic. As some bipolar individuals will tell you, the high or mania can feel good. They often accomplish much and even feel their ideas jump to a new level of sophistication. It's the low mood that brings them down, preventing them from attending school and getting done what they need to. Bouncing down to a depression after an extreme high signals possible bipolar disorder.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.