Mental Health - Knoxville,MD

Updated on January 22, 2011
C.J. asks from Knoxville, MD
13 answers

This may seem a little off the wall. I was looking for moms opinions on Pediatric Bipolar Disorder, also known as onset bipolar disorder. There are a lot of websites and books out there about it. I was just wondering if any other mothers were dealing with it in a young child and by young i mean 4 years old

Let me give just a little more information. He is four years old and mental illness runs deep on the paternal side of his family. I also know that he exhibits a lot of the traits associated with Pediatric Bipolar Disorder. I know that in today's world doctors are quick to jump to a diagnosis. He has been through a very traumatic custody battle in the last seven months. Where I have had time to reflect and look back and things and notice other things from his earlier childhood that could have pointed to an undiagnosed case of BP .

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answers from Minneapolis on

I would first focus on getting him through and over the trauma that you mention. Seven months in a 4 year-old's life is huge. Then there will be time to more closely examine his behavior for any longer-term issues.

Just because "there are websites and books out there" does not mean that the mental health community has even come to agreement about the existence of this disorder in children this young. Google "pediatric bipolar disorder controversy" and you'll get lots of hits, too.

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answers from Roanoke on

First off, to all of the people who have never dealt with this issue, you should not be giving advice about it. I knew that there was a problem with my child from the time he was 2-3 years old. You have no idea how insufferable it is for someone who has no clue what you are dealing with to say things like "all kids have behavior issues" or "it's a discipline problem" or "it's just a phase". My son was a danger to himself and to everyone around him. I started taking him to doctors when he was 3 years old and wasn't able to get a diagnosis and help for him until 6 doctors and 3 years later. If you believe that your child needs to be evaluated then you should trust your instincts. He needs to be evaluated by a doctor who specializes in neurodevelopmental disabilities. My son could be very aggressive when provoked. He tried to stab me with a knife when I told him he couldn't have icecream for dinner one night, he broke his grandmother's nose during one of his rages (at 3 years old), he tried to jump from the car when we were driving down the interstate, he threatened to cut a childs throat (while sitting on top of him holding scissors to his throat) in kindergarten because the child wouldn't stop coughing. So people who say "I have never dealt with this, but I think you should . . ." have no business giving advice. You are the parent and you spend more time with the child than anyone else and therefore have a better idea of whether or not there is cause for concern. It is always better to have the evaluation and find out that you were overreacting than to not have one when it was really needed. Good luck to you.
P.S. My son is 12 now and you would not believe how much better he is since the diagnosis and since getting his meds adjusted correctly. There is hope.

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answers from Redding on

I've never heard of such a thing....not that I'm an expert, but seriously?
Perfectly normal 4 year olds who have never experienced any trauma are like creatures from another planet sometimes. Happy one minute and crying the next, can't live without a favorite snuggy and then wants nothing to do with it. Loves broccoli one meal and thinks it's gross three days later.
Ups and downs are pretty normal for kids.
Under the best of circumstances.
Maybe your child is just emotionally overwhelmed.
He's been through a traumatic custody battle.
Who made it traumatic?
I'm honestly asking.
There's been a custody battle, interestingly enough you are bringing up mental illness on his father's side, apparently searching websites and books now that you've had time to "reflect" back on your son's "earlier' childhood.....He's only 4!
Are YOU trying to diagnose him with something?
You can google til your head falls off. 90% of the healthy teenagers I know would probably be "bipolar" according to some website.
I swear I don't mean to sound harsh. I'm all for "mother's intuition" and all that, but do him the benefit of getting a professional opinion.

Maybe he has PTSD.
Post Traumatic Stess Syndrome.
It wouldn't make him mentally ill and it can be dealt with.
Like I said, I don't mean to sound harsh and I'm sure you love your son and want what's best for him.
Don't just run through a list of "symptoms" on the computer. Take him to see someone in person.

I feel for the little guy. My kids went through a horrible custody situation too.
Did they act out? Yes.
Did they feel torn between their parents? Yes.
Were they mentally ill? No.

Maybe it's like having a history of chronic heart problems in the family.
Your little one runs around and gets winded or breathes heavily and automatically your worst and first thought is that your child inherited a bad heart.
So you google.
Oh my God.
It must be cardiomyopathy.

Don't do that to yourself or your child.

Best wishes.

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answers from Washington DC on

I personally do not have a child with it, but my nephew who is now 7 has been diagnosed as PBD. My understanding is that they actually are very reluctant to diagnose this particular disorder because of the medications and implications. My nephew (and Brother-in-law and sister-in-law) have been through the ringer and been seeking diagnosis since he was probably about four. After many doctors, psychs, etc. he finally was diagnosed with PBD among other things. It took years.

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answers from Boston on

I don't have a child with this, but I teach psychology so I have read about it a bunch.

Honestly, I think that if some kids have it it is very very rare. We want to "medicalize" a lot of slightly abnormal behavior in kids. Especially difficult behavior. The more books that come out about it the more it is diagnosed, rather than the other way around. I obviously don't know the case for your child, but honestly, in general, I'm skeptical.

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answers from Portland on

Most often the symptoms of trauma present as BPD (bipolar disorder) and MANY child psychiatrists will steer clear of diagnosing a young child with BPD who has experienced trauma. He needs trauma focused therapy...please google this and get this little boy some help. Please also question ANYONE who comes anywhere near diagnosing him with BPD as that treatment will WORSEN his traumatic symptoms.

Put simply, we wouldn't give a diabetic antibiotics only and expect their insulin levels to improve. We would in fact be jeapordizing their life. If traumatic stress in overlooked because of a false and highly questionable diagnosis this little boy will get worse and suffer needlessly. Trauma-focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for children. Please look into it.

My heart is with him:(

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answers from Washington DC on

I'm so glad you asked this question because I googled it and I think my son may have this! I'm not sure what is wrong with him, but we had an initial assessment done today. But the clinician was leaning more toward a spectrum disorder (autism), so we'll have to see what all of the test results reveal. It's so easy to grasp at one or another explanation for bizarre and difficult behavior - I know I have considered everything. But if you are like me and have been asking yourself for years, "What the [bleep] is wrong with my child?" do yourself a favor and get him evaluated by an expert.



answers from Columbus on

I don't have experience with pediatric mental illness personally, but there is a deep history of mental illness in my family. My advice is to get it checked into now. I think that the docs these days are more careful about psychiatric meds for children, and so will proceed slowly.

Definitely trust your instincts. Get him evaluated by a child psychatrist (sp) and/or other specialist. And in the meantime, it's not too early for talk therapy, so start him seeing a child psychologist. Often it is the traumatic events that bring these things to the surface.



answers from Washington DC on

You don't say what symptoms your child has. We have issues on the paternal side of the family. Our ped said that it is way too early to be looking at a child for that. Whereas I want to attribute similar behaviors of family members to my child, it is unlikely at this age. What we do have is a very strong case of pediatric anxiety. I would talk to your ped if you are worried about it.



answers from Richmond on

yes, doctors are quick medicate kids these days for everything from a stubbed toe to adhd, before you allow a doctor to do this, stop and consider
how many millions of dollars are pressed into his or her hands to 'encourage' them to prescribe one drug over another.instead of relying on their biased opinions, do your homework first, if mental illness runs in the family, find out what type of mental illness, what was the age of onset, where there other factors involved, and what was the treatments offered and what where the outcomes, THEN, with information in hand, sit down and rationally think about what you want to do next.
K. h.



answers from Seattle on

Look in your area for a university-affiliated hospital that might have a center or specialists specifically dealing with childhood-onset bipolar disorder (often there are child psychiatrists/psychologists who specialize in this disorder and are involved in studies, etc...) - take him to see people who are familiar with the presentation of the disorder and go from there.
On another note, we all realize that this is a public advice forum, yes? And by posting here, we are likely to get all kinds of responses, not just agreeable ones or ones we think make sense, or ones from only certain informed individuals, yes? Doesn't really matter what we think people "should" be saying, does it? No need for hostility, I think. It's up to the question asker to discern good advice from not so good.



answers from Washington DC on

I hope you are able to get some help for him and some answers, but I do think there will be a long road ahead before any diagnosis is made. There is a lot of caution in diagnosing and/or medicating a young child for something like bipolar disorder. Having worked in both family medicine and the field of psychology for a while, I just want to respond to the PP's statement about "money pressed into their hands to prescribe one med over another". Not only is that NOT done, but it is illegal. The days of cruise-ship and sporting event dinners to "educate" about certain drugs by pharma is long OVER. You're lucky if you get a pen with the drug's name on it anymore. The pharm companies do provide free samples to doctor's offices to encourage them to use for a trial with a patient before they have to pay for a prescription, and some even provide enough to help patients who do not have insurance. I agree many conditions are overmedicated and meds in general can be overprescribed, but it is more of what is being taught in med schools than the influence of "kickbacks". Any provider wants to be able to do something to help a patient...that is why they are in the field, the problem is, most of the time, the only thing they KNOW to do is medicate.
Sorry to get off topic...but just wanted to defend you for seeking help for your child and defend the medical community as there are still quite a few honest and caring providers out there wanting only to help.



answers from Boise on

Bipolar disorder has it ROOT in endocrine disease. Particularly, the hormones cortisol, and sex hormones, as well as thyroid hormones.

What are his specific symptoms...?

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