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What is bipolar disorder in teens?

Sheri Van Dijk
Psychiatry

Bipolar disorder in teens can be a little harder to distinguish than in adults, because many of the symptoms of bipolar disorder can be attributed to hormone changes and other things that teenagers typically go through: irritability and anger, mood swings, using drugs or alcohol, engaging in risky behaviors such as driving recklessly or having unprotected sex, sex with people they don't know very well, or with multiple partners, and so on.

If you're concerned that your teens' behaviors might be above and beyond "normal", if your teen is engaging in behaviors that are dangerous or self-destructive, start by talking to your teen. Open the door of communication as best as you can. If your teen won't talk to you, try and think of someone in their life they might talk to - an aunt or uncle, a coach, a teacher, someone at church, etc. Don't take offence if your teen won't speak with you - you can work on your relationship once things settle down; the main concern in this kind of situation is figuring out what's going on with your teen and what can be done to help.

Whether it's bipolar disorder or just plain old teen angst, you want to keep your kids safe and help through these difficult years.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
As you might guess from the prefixes, bipolar depression refers to people who have two different sides to their depression or behavior--that is, a depressed state and a very high-energy state.    

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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.