Bipolar vs ADD

Updated on May 04, 2009
D.M. asks from Shawnee, KS
9 answers

Anyone have experience with Bipolar/ADD with children over 10? Please share symptoms, along with experiences, they sound like they have same symptoms from what I have read. Also,prescribed meds cause suicidal tendency in children/teens

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answers from Joplin on

Hey D. M.
I have a step-son who is bipolar. He was diagnosed almost 5 years ago. His father also has bi-polar (manic/depressive) Not a fun thing to go through. I also have another friend who my husband met on bi-polar connect that has a 14 year old son who is bi-polar. If you would like to talk my email is [email protected] get as much information on bi-polar that you can it is really helpful.

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answers from St. Louis on

From what I understand, Bipolar can look a lot like ADHD, except when you look closely, the child with bipolar will cycle from high to lows, angry to happy. And is usually missing the attention part of the ADHD. Here are a couple of sites I've found. My son is 4 and we are on a diagnostic mission right now, but they say he's too young to diagnose anything for certain and that he won't be diagnosed until he's older. Take your son to a psychiatrist or psychologist. Dr. Luby in St. Louis is very good. Good Luck, I feel your pain!

Both sites are very good at defining disorders. Seriously, good luck, my heart is with you and all mother like us going through the same challenges.

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answers from St. Louis on

My prayers go out to you. I have a daughter that was diagnosed at almost 17. We started working with her when she was 4 or 5 because things just weren't right. Her father and I were divorced and it was thought she was having anger issues with that. As she got older I remarried and we had more sadness, anger, running away, street drugs, days where I could not get her out of bed and she quit school. She did at least in her 20's get her GED. Then we would have days of nothing could harm her, things were absolutely wonderful (above and beyond normal. I do not remember all the meds we tried but 95% of them caused weight gain and sometimes seem to make acne worse. At her age at the time this also was not something she needed. As far as suicidal tendencies on any of her meds I do not remember that any had that warning. She was mostly on the depressive side and at times suicidal but not necessarily while on meds. We also had another daughter and saw that maybe it was more than what we thought and at about 13 - 14 started pushing the doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists more. She was diagnosed as Bipolar and at some point ADD. The information I got in researching and talking with Drs. is that this can be a part of being Bipolar. I also found that medication given for ADD can conteract what is given for the Bipolar disorder. So we ended up not staying on meds for the ADD. Our other problem was that she would not continue her meds and would quit taking them. At this time she has not taken the meds in 8 years and is 28 years old and at times can not take care of herself. She does work for short periods of time but has never been employed for more than about 8 mos. Hopefully, your experience/child will be very different from ours. Between 13 and 19 years old was an extremely difficult time and unfortunately our daughter missed some of the best part of life as she grew up.

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answers from Wichita on

Our adopted son was diagnosed with ADHD in early childhood, and his behavior was really tough to live with. He was initially placed on one stimulant after another, but nothing seemed to really help. I always thought that this diagnosis wasn't really right. As he grew, and I became more and more interested in attachment issues and mood disorders, I learned that the behaviors from these two and ADHD were often misdiagnosed and very similar. By the time my son was sixteen, and I had become a social worker, he was using drugs and generally having what I thought were mania and very oppositional behavior. We took him to Menninger's in Topeka, KS, and my own diagnosis of bipolar was confirmed. He was placed on Depakote, and life began to level out and get better, for him and for us. By 19, he had stopped the drugs on his own, and was a pleasant person to live with. Since then, I have learned that although attachment disorders, ADHD, and childhood bipolar often present similarly. You do not want to use regular antidepressants with bipolar, as that can exacerbate the mania. Often, some of these symptoms can come from various types of traumas children my suffer early on, such as separation, loss, neglect, traumatic events that cause fear, etc. There is a lot of literature regarding these, and if you like, I can send you links to these. I am currently a hypnotherapist working with children and adults with past trauma. Your child needs to be evaluated by someone who understands the similarity of these three (or possibly other diagnoses) and can look at his/her symptoms and compare the effect they have had on his life to determine what is really going on. A psychiatrist in Denver has made a chart with the comparison, and it worked very well for me to separate the behaviors that were occurring. If you like, you can email me privately at: [email protected]


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answers from St. Louis on

The symptoms have similarities but are different. Also, NOT taking meds can cause/continue suicidal tendecies. Close monitoring & frequent appointments can help make sure the correct meds/med combinations and dosages are achieved. So my advice is to make sure that the person gets good care from a professional who specializes in children w/Bipolar disorder so he can detect the differences. Also there are some people with both ADHD & Bi-polar disorder. Statistically, people with either ADHD, Bi-polar, or both do much better when on meds consistantly. Those who are not on meds do worse in school, have a higher rate of depression, suicide, drug use, addiction, etc. So taking or not taking meds have 'side effects'. Diagnosis & treatment is a long road that can sometimes be frustrating but the result is better care for someone you love. My prayers are with you! Oh, no one in my family deals w/Bi-polar but we do deal with ADHD & depression. I hope this helps!

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answers from Wichita on

Good Morning D., Both of our son's had ADD and were placed on Med Ritalin in 3-4th grades. They are now 34-32. They didn't like taking the meds and sometimes just didn't. Made them feel like Zombies they said. When I took them off cold turkey I found out later they could of died from heart attacks or depression suicide..

Here is a Web site I looked up just now, that might help to distingish between the two.

Also Web md is a good site for information.

I feel our youngest daughter in law is BIOPOLAR. she says she is depressed, but her mood swings can get violent quickly.

God Bless you D.
K. Nana of 5

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answers from Kansas City on

Hi D....

I don't have much experience with bipolar, but a teenage family member is going through some similar stuff, so I have some first hand experience with the other things, like meds, ADHD, etc. If your doc wants to put your child on meds just be sure to ask lots of questions. Some can cause suicidal tendencies but the way it works is that period is only temporary. They go through highs and lows, and if they're already depressed then it makes it more difficult. The meds will help increase their mood and help them past the suicidal part (not all kids experience it of course) but you just have to have close supervision during that couple week period. Also, as someone else mentioned, you want to make the right choice b/c kids who really do need meds will try and self medicate without them, and that could get ugly. This may be a difficult road for you and your child but hang in there, things will get better!



answers from Wichita on

My advice is to find a really excellent pedriatric psychiatist. Make sure they do a full evaluation on your child and ask lots of questions.

Alot of the medicines have had to add the suicidal warning to their insert. The main thing is to watch your child carefully and make sure they get plenty of follow-up. (Most of the problems happened in teen who were not closely followed.) Medications can help with mood stabilization and better overall performance, but it can take time.

Start looking for available resources out there to help your family. This problem may continue for years. Keep your eyes open for support groups for yourself and your child. My prayers will be with your family.



answers from St. Louis on

My 20 year old son was on a number of meds. that the lable said caused suicidal tendency in children. No ill affects. we had to find the correct depression med. paired with counseling.
I feel the my child needed the combination of meds and counseling to get better.

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