Teen Mis-diagnosed with Bipolar II

Updated on March 09, 2010
E.H. asks from Jacksonville, TX
53 answers

Is anybody out there that has been through having a child diagnosed with this?
What suggestions could you give me to better help my child while we try to find the best treatment?

7 moms found this helpful

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So What Happened?

Well, almost 4 months ago I asked for input on Bipolar disorder from other moms with Bipolar children. This is the sequence of events: Nov 07-my 18 yr old was diagnosed with Bipolar II and was prescribed a mood stabilizer, Dec 07-Psychiatrist suffers a heart attack. Jan 08-New psychiatrist prescribes my daughter a Lamictal and diagnosed her with mood disorder and depression. Soon after she becomes allergic to Lamictal. Feb 08 -psychiatrist changes medication to Lexapro, she starts with 10 mg and in April increased it to 20 mg. and Lexapro is working like a charm with no side effects whatsoever.
My daughter is doing so well. In the mean while she's been taking cognitive therapy and the prognosis is very good.
It's amazing how depression can drive a sweet girl insane, running with the wrong crowd and things that come with that...all because of depression and trying to aliviate it.
I thank God from the bottom of my heart that He was watching over her and at the early stages we saw the signs and could find her the much needed help.
I continue praying for all my kids, their lives are full of snares and unhealthy peer pressures. What's a mom to do? except be aware and talk to her kids in love, patience and try to understand.
Thank you all for your advice and prayers. I too have prayed and continue to pray for many of your situations. Life is no doubt, hard! but keep it up, keep the faith and I'm here as well to encourage you. Thanks!
MAMASOURCE MOMS ARE THE BEST!!

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E.F.

answers from Amarillo on

I was a teen dx with bp. The best advice that I can give is to watch for changes as you are medicating. The medications for bp help with symptoms and at the same time create new ones. Dont get caught in a cycle of treating the smptoms of one medication with another. Many medications have long term effects that effect the thyroid and adrenal glands, as well as leave deposits onn the brain. Research any meds you get and what they effect.

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G.V.

answers from Phoenix on

Hi E.,

Bipolar is absolutely REVERSABLE! I have a lot of information on this...too much to post here. Email me privately ([email protected]____.com) or call my office at ###-###-####.

Warm Regards,
G. Van Luven
Healthy Habits Wellness Center, LLC
###-###-####

1 mom found this helpful

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J.S.

answers from Dallas on

All of the other moms have some GREAT advice for you, and I would definitely keep ALL of their responses in mind. The 2 other things I have to offer are:
1) Join support groups ~ 1 for you and your husband as the parents of a Bipolar child, and another for your daughter....If you can find a support group for siblings of BP patients, and your other children are old enough, I would have them join a support group, as well.

2) When your daughter is in an episode, make sure she has done each of 3 things ~ taking her meds as directed, getting enough *restorative* sleep, and eating properly (a good balance between her carbs and proteins/fats; a "diabetic" exchange diet may help you make sure she is achieving that balance). (I know it's extra work for you, Mom, but you may have to keep a "diary" of her mood swings, meds, sleep, and diet. This is not something your daughter can do, b/c when she comes out of the episodes, she likely won't remember what "set her off", or even what she said/did during that episode). If any of the "keys" are missing, address it as quickly as possible, and it should help "shorten" her episode tremendously.

My husband is Bipolar II, and his mom is also Bipolar (not sure if she was correctly diagnosed as I or II). Both are on meds, watch their eating habits, and how much sleep they are getting/needing. They both still have occasional "episodes", but mostly doing well.

Feel free to contact me if you need to talk or need some other help.

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R.A.

answers from Elmira on

Hi E.,
I agree most with Belinda's posting. As a Mother of a child with bipolar disorder, I find it difficult to take advice from very well meaning people who believe only one treatment option (vitamins, for example!) work best. Management of this disease requires a combination of therapies and a lot of trial and error. You know your child best. Follow your instincts and educate yourself as best you can about available doctors, therapies and support systems. Most of all, help your child understand that working towards wellness is a team effort and that you are their biggest supporter. Please try to take care of yourself. You will need all of the energy you have not to react to you child's moods, but to respond to the needs that surface as a result of his/her illness. Kids with bipolar disorder are very sensitive and know that their moods are affecting others. Love your child, take care of yourself and PRAY! This child has been sent as a gift to YOU for a reason. You are your child's best advocate. R.

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B.S.

answers from Austin on

My almost 17 year old daughter was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 11. Learn all you can to help your child manage the illness so the illness does not manage your child! Read, read, read. Talk to others (like this forum) and check out support groups. Contact your local NAMI (National Alliance for Mentally Ill)Chapter or go to www.nami.org They have a free educational program, "Visions for Tomorrow" for parents and caregivers of children with brain disorders. You will receive support from others who share your challenges, education, and guidance in working with the school system. Stay on top of the Special Education department and work coopertively with your child's teachers. They want to see your child succeed too.

It's difficult not to "swing" with your teen's emotions when he/she is doing so well and then takes a plunge and makes bad decisions or suffers depression. Sometimes it's a challenge to separate the illness from typical teenager behaviors.

When things get ugly, remind yourself you are looking at the illness and NOT THE PERSON. Pray.

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L.D.

answers from Denver on

My 14 year old daughter was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 Rapid Cycling a year ago while she was in a youth mental center due to a planned suicide. She had been taking antidepressants and had been in weekly therapy for depression for 6 months before this. She is now on a drug normally used for epilepsy combined with a different antidepressant, vitamins, a stable healthy diet, and weekly therapy and EMDR. She sees her prescribing psychiatrist every 6 weeks and is generally stable. She still has "episodes" sometimes, but they are not as severe as before, and she is able to process them during her weekly therapy sessions. This is a very expensive endeavor for our family, even with insurance, but we feel that we are investing in her future by making sure she receives all that she needs right now. (Actually she would have no future because she would be suicidal if we did not). We are not sure what her adult life will look like because SOMETIMES teens can seem to "outgrow" the worst of the illness when they reach maturity, but many times do not. And many times the diagnosis will change to a different mental illness in their adult life. I am Christian also and believe in the power of prayer, and we utilize that power constantly, but I also believe that our Heavenly Father puts people into our lives to help as an answer to prayer. And that includes physicians, therapists, and medical doctors. I have heard of many "cures" and many ways to deal with the illness from many people. These include "tapping", vitamin therapy, vegan diets, detoxification, herbal supplements, pet therapies, cognitive-behavior therapy, and many more. I believe that through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost we can know what is most beneficial for our children and what we should pursue. I would also like to be a listening ear if you should need one.

My suggestions for you right now are to remain calm and loving even when your child is in a rage. Remember that there is a child of God inside that person whom sometimes you don't even recognize as your own. Be very alert to every mood change because sometimes they can turn to severe depression and suicide more quickly than you can imagine. My daughter is right here reading my response and wants to add, "Tell your child when you notice a mood change in them because they don't even realize they had one. And give them something to do like a puzzle or a stress ball to calm them while talking to them." We hope we have helped in some way. L. (and Savannah)

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C.A.

answers from San Francisco on

Beware of the diagnosis and don't accept every doctor as an expert! My 9 year old was placed on bipolar meds twice, and they made her rages worse. Go slow and be sure to keep a medication log (what meds, when you start, when you end and the reactions). Doctors "guess" and what works best. I also found vitamins made a huge difference for my daughter, sneaking some protein and fish oil into her daily smoothies. If your insurance will cover it, you may want to have a SPECT scan at the Amen Clinic. People from all over the world go to this clinic, an hour from my home. I had my daughter scaned twice and it really helps to actually see the illness and then a year later, to see the physical results of the medications. Read Dr. Amens books or viist www.amenclinics.com. Also read this article on "March Madness" kids that cycle in Spring and November http://www.bipolarchild.com/Newsletters/0506.html

Blessings and hope, remember to Be Still and wait Upon the Lord. When the mind is calm, the Holy Spirit can enter. Pray for calmness.

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L.A.

answers from Killeen on

dear E.,
i was diagnosed with bipolar in my early twenties. i agree that proper sleep, diet and exercise can help immensely! but, sometimes medication is definitely necessary. a good therpist is very important!! i am in my late thirties now and have two healthy little girls. i have learned the importance of staying active, lettibg go of the past, getting proper rest and realizing i cannot do everything by myself. i have had no issues for over 6 years now, but i realize i have to stay on top of my emotions. it can be a terrible struggle for both the family and the person suffering from bipolar. i read a quote the other day that i thought was great, it said that depression and bipolar are diseases just like diabetes and should not be stigmatized as anything other than that!! best of luck to you and your family!!! L.

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A.J.

answers from Columbia on

I was diagnosed with bipolar when I was 20. I have several sisters who have been diagnosed with it in their teen years. I agree with most of the responses you have gotten. I am now 34, happily married with a beautiful 8-yr old daughter...doing really well, but the 20s were hard as I figured out my body and what I needed medically to help, which shifted some with marriage and pregnancy,etc. Anyway, my thoughts - exercise, diet, counseling, meds, and God were what got me through. Keeping a regular sleep cycle is vital because with bipolar on both the "ups" and "downs" you are NOT sleeping well and getting the proper REM rest that you need. So, help your teen get sleep 7 days a week, even if it means cutting back some activities so that he/she can get the needed sleep. : )The support and love of my family and friends were extremely needed! It is easy to feel shame having it and as a Mom it might feel that you are to blame at times. I am sure you feel so helpless sometimes - I know my husband does. Please know you are not alone. Please get help for you, too. Whether it is just a good girlfriend who loves to listen...make sure you take care of yourself. Also,seek people who are loving, helpful and WISE. Don't share with everyone (I suggest) because there are so, so many that don't understand and you will feel their rejection, which hurts when you feel so desperate or especially for your teen who craves acceptance. Lastly, I would encourage you to keep trying to find a psychiatrist and a counselor that you BOTH feel comfortable with (like others suggested). I have had bad ones in both, but have persevered in trying to find ones that really were good and that sometimes take time. It is more important to get a counselor that shares your similar beliefs and values and have a Dr. who is a very good doctor - "up-to-date" on meds, side effects and who is willing to answer "all" the many questions you have. They do not necessarily have to share your belief system, but if you find a good one (Christian psychiatrists are hard to find - that's great. I am a Christian and I will be praying for you...don't despair - there is hope and light at the end of the tunnel...

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A.L.

answers from Boston on

Hello E. and Group,

My daughter and myself and siblings on my mothers side all have been diagnosed with a mental illness. My daughter's doctors have gone between oppositional defiant disorder and Bipolar vs ADHD. We have tried all sorts of meds to rule out different disorders. Some days are great and others, mommy needs a time out. My husband and I are reading "The Explosive child" author ? and "Get out of my life, but first could you drive me and Cheryl to the mall?" by Anthony Wolf, Ph.D.

These 2 books are great, as well as "The Bipolar Child" is excellent.

I also wanted to stress an importance on safety for your child. Do not ever reduce or remove their meds without a doctors consent. Also, if you feel something has changed with their mood or just noticing that something may be wrong, please take this very seriously.

My best friend took her own life several years ago after taking herself off of her bipolar meds. She got into an argument with her sons father and this sent her into a very manic and then a very depressive state. She gave away things, paid off all of her bills and then locked herself in a bedroom of her sisters while she watched her son and her nephews, and she found a gun and took her own life at 22 years old. She left her 2 year old son with no mother. There was never any blame placed on my friend Maisie, because it was her illness that took her life.

Please do not be afraid to contact your local crisis services provider to protect yourself and your child. THEY MAY NEED AN IMMEDIATE CONSULT WITH A CRISIS PROVIDER, while they are in their depressive/manic state to truly diagnosis and medicate.

I wish you and the others the best of luck with your children. If it weren't for parents like us, our children would be lost. Take care.

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C.L.

answers from Phoenix on

I just wanted to mention that Bipolar is a brain disorder like eplipsy not a hormonal disorder. Sleep and diet are important because when someone has an episode their brain isn't firing like it should. When they are tired or their blood sugar is low or high their brain isn't firing like it should. The medicine purpose is to get the brain firing normally. Caffeine might make his symptoms worse.

I suggest getting him enrolled in an anger management class to teach him how to calm down. Exercise is also a positive way to get the brain firing when he isn't feeling just right.

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J.H.

answers from Boston on

Hi there. My husband was diagnosed with Bipolar II last year, and I found a great support group online called BPSO (http://www.bpso.org). There are resources available there, but there's also a supportive, active online community that can help you through the tough times. The people in the group have Bipolar significant others of all types...parents, children, spouses, siblings...but they all have experiences that will help you through your own. I found the group helpful as I figured out how to move past the diagnosis. Good luck!

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N.P.

answers from Enid on

I highly recommend anyone diagnosed with bipolar disorder read the powerpoint presentation at the below website by Dr. Shoemaker, the author of Mold Warriors. Bipolar disorder may be caused by exposure to mold or other biotoxins, such as Lyme Disease. "Biotoxin associated illnesses can look like bipolar illness, ADHD, stress, and depression." There are lab tests that can be done to determine if your teenager has biotoxin illness. There is also treatment available.

www.biotoxin.info/images/VirginiaPsychiatry.pdf

(Or go to www.biotoxin.info, click on research, click on recent presentations, click on PDF under State Outpatient Psychiatry, Richmond, VA, June 2007 Presentation)

N.

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L.B.

answers from Odessa on

I personally think all teens could be diagnosed easily with bipolar. It's a hormone (dopamine) disorder. I'm a firm believer that exercise and diet and rest are the biggest regulators of it.

I had a very close friend who had an episode about eight months ago. They diagnosed her and she's been in therapy since. She basically had just quit taking care of herself, separated from her husband and it all exacerbated. She has since been pulled off all her medication and the diagnosis has been removed. She just learned how to take care of herself.

I would head to the health food store. Get a great multivitamin made from whole foods for better absorption and get a great Omega 3-6-9. Exercise is the No. 1 thing God gave us to regulate hormones along with diet.

I think she can improve dramatically by focusing on what God gave us to live healthy happy lives.

I freaked when it happened to my friend because it could have been me so easily. The only difference in our lives is I was trying to get pregnant and taking better care of myself. It was a wake-up call to me.

Good luck!

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M.L.

answers from Boston on

I saw this post for the first time today and felt I should add my 2 cents. My 16 1/2 year old son was diagnosed with bipolar. He also has ADHD and OCD tendencies. At age 13, he was dx with Aspergers as well. It has been a long journey and I expect it to continue. He is stable and has been for several years now. He does well in school and is a loving son. Things that helped me were joining a support group, whethter an in person or online type. Learn as much as you can about bipolar. Finially, find a good psychiatrist and counselor.
In terms of school, if this affects his academics, he needs an IEP or 504. You will likely need medical documentation of his dx. Also, starting at age 14, the school needs to help with tranistion planning (how his disability will affect him as an adult, what services he may need, what agencies will need to be involved, etc).
I know there is a lot to learn and take in. Just do one step at a time, otherwise you will get quite overwhelmed.
Please contact me if you have any questions, concerns.
M.

Also, keeping your son on a schedule will help him as well. Getting him on a schedule will be more difficult. It will come, one little step at a time.

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K.J.

answers from Houston on

I dont have a child with Bipolar but I have known people with it and I myself at one time was diagnosed with Major Depression that seems to be a part of bipolar.

My only advice and this is important. If you want your child to be successful in life one of the BIGGEST things you can do is to teach your child that tho he / she might have bipolar. He / she is NOT the disease.

One of the most damaging things I experenced in the mental health system was having people agree with me that I was SO sick it was disabling.
Depending on your childs situation, I want to suggest to you that though you seek treatment. Make sure he / she knows there is life beyond it and it will NOT overtake them. That is so so vital I can not stress that to you enough.

God Bless you and I pray that you will find the answers you are looking for.

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M.H.

answers from Raleigh on

E., sorry this is late, but I wanted to put in my two cents! While none of my children have BPD, my husband does. Over the years we have found that by getting at least 6-8 hours of GOOD sleep a night and eating a well-balanced diet, he is already helping himself. But this is not enough! Your child needs to also find a good psychiatrist (although my husband goes to our family doc because he specializes in BPD and says he is the best he's ever had!) and a therapist that your child feels comfortable talking to. My husband's BPD was out of control until he consistently (every 3 months to doc and every month to therapist) went to these practitioners. Finally, you cannot stress enough the importance of your child taking his/her medication. Too many adults stop taking their meds later on in life because they think they are fine without them. My husband (who was diagnosed at 13 years of age) was told how important his meds are to him having a successful treatment, and would never think of going off of them. While you don't want your child to live for his/her meds, the life they will lead with them is much better than the one without them! While you may feel like you have an uphill battle (and trust me there are still days I feel like I do!), know that there is light at the end of the tunnel (my husband has gone over a year now without a depressive episode!). God bless!

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V.J.

answers from Phoenix on

Esmerelda,

Don't give up! There is a cure for bipolar disorder! I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was a teenager. I did neurofeedback at age 19 where I learned how to control my brainwaves and now I have had 5 bipolar free years.

Here is a website about neurofeedback: http://www.eeginfo.com/what-is-neurofeedback.htm

I had a brainmap done to see which part of my brain made me manic and which part made me depressed. Sure enough, one area of my brain was producing really fast, high anxiety waves (mania) and one was producing slow zombie-like asleep waves (depression). My therapist and I made a relaxation script together that she read to me each time. We also did talk therapy. She hooked me up to a computer so we could see what my brain was doing. I would play computer games by figuring out how to alter my brain waves (i.e. make space ships fly in a computer game when I was maintaining my brain waves). I can't explain how I did it, but it was like something just clicked. Each session, I would learn how to hold it for longer until eventually it stuck. I did 30 sessions total (3 a week for 10 weeks).

I am so happy to not have to deal with the huge roller coaster anymore and to be able to function in life especially now that I have a child of my own and can't afford to be nuts. My quality of life is so much better. Medication didn't work for me and made me miserable because I gained so much weight. Neurofeedback can be expensive but medication and the price of being bipolar are more expensive to me.

Let me know if you'd like help searching for a neurofeedback clinic near you because I'm really good at finding things on the internet. You can usually do a google search for neurofeedback and your city and state in Google and you will find something.

Good luck!

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M.D.

answers from Houston on

Read The Bipolar Child by Papolos.

I have an 11 year old son that we've been working with since the age of 5. Take a lot of deep breaths. Best wishes and God Bless.

M.

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L.Q.

answers from Boston on

I am so happy to hear you are a believer in God and Jesus! That will really help you through this. You need to stand in faith. I have an 18 year old niece who lives with my mom & dad who is also bi-polar, found out 3 years ago. You need to stand in faith that the Lord is good and he is going to get you all through this. I truly believe in homeopathic medicine as well for EVERYTHING! I go to Mark Mincolla, PH.d located in Cohasset, MA I go for other health reason (skin rashes, weight issues, ect.) but he also helps mentally ill people as well.
his website is www.maxhealing.com go check it out! There is some great info on there and maybe your child can go see him or they can possibly recommend someone in your area. His associate was able to help my niece in a big way. Good luck and God bless. I also agree it could be a hormonal issue too.
Which Mark Mincolla (or someone like him can determine).

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M.C.

answers from Philadelphia on

Hi E.,

I think you have had great responses and I agree with most of them: diet, a good supplementation program from a reputable company(this industry is not regulated), exersize, counseling, 2-nd opinion AND get rid of all your toxins in your house, including your laundry products. You will be amazed with the positive effects this will have on you and your family's health. Check out this site www.shakeegetclean.com/goodhealthconcepts . These are fabulous,economical, non-toxic "green" products. B.T.W this company was "green" way before it was fashionable to be "green". They were featured on the Oprah show 5 times last year!
Good luck. I admire you for getting involved and not just go the "drug" route...

Michelle Cruz

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D.G.

answers from Minneapolis on

I read many of the responses to your request. Personally, I would research this "diagnosis" as much as possible. Check out what she's eating - is she eating a lot of processed foods. While supplementation with a high quality nutritional supplement is important so is the proper diet, exercise and sleep - something our teenagers don't get a lot of today because of all the stress etc. One thing I don't allow my children to have very often is pop (especially diet pop with all the chemical sweetners). I rarely purchase it so it's not something that they drink on a regular basis. I also try to eliminate all of the processed white flour in our home. While no on has been diagnosised with any diseases to date, I want to be sure that my family is met with proper nutrition. One website to check out is Dr. Strand's website - www.bionutrition.org plus he has one on healthy eating .

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L.C.

answers from Washington DC on

hello! my name is L.. i have a 16 year old daughter who has been diagnosed with suicide ideation, 11 attempts in 1 year. my daughter also has adhd, emotional disorder, and several other issues. myself, i have my own issues with fibromylagia, tmj, tms, lumbar cervical spondlyoitis, copd, panic attacks. since i am retired medically i am always on the look out for good books that deal with issues like these because we my daughter and i keep getting new diagnoses. a book you might want to get is why am i still depressed by dr. jim phelps. his website is www.psycheducation.org, his writings are basically geared towards bi-polar. having bi-polar is not a bad thing. dealing with the ups and downs of emotions is hard. i have another daughter 21 who does not live with us anymore cause i couldn't deal with the add side of narcissism. another book to get is narcissism revisted. the reason i suggest these books is you need to read them so that you can understand what is going on with your child. patience and a very good doctor. read as much as you can on bi-polar and any other issues with mental health. the books will help you to survive. believe me. take care and have a good day. L.

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K.S.

answers from Phoenix on

E., I too, am late replying (sorry), but have a child with Bipolar 2. I also am married to a man with Bipolar 2 and have a brother with it as well. Therefore, despite all the wonderful advice you have been given (and that I agree with), if you ever just need someone to talk, to vent, to sympathize and pray for you and your son, please just email me? Because I have definitely been there, done that--own the t-shirt. My oldest son is the one with Bipolar 2 and he will be 18 soon. He was diagnosed when he was 16, and the last two years have been interwoven with successes and failures, happiness and tears. Feel free to email anytime, hon. Hugs, Kat

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A.H.

answers from Decatur on

First off, you have obviously began to seek treatment? Is this where you got your confirmation of the diagnosis. I work for a mental health facility, there are major breakthroughs for BiPolar, as long as the treatment continues there is nothing to keep your child from maintaining a healthy life, it is nothing that has to be broadcast, that's where you problems come in, there is unfortuantely still much stigma put on mental illness, those come from small minded people. If you have a good doctor you can make sure that the dose is not too much and causes the child to sleep too much or not enough, make sure you have a good support system in your community where you can share with parents that have children with the diagnosis and be a support for your child, make sure the child is comfortable with the medications, treatment and the doctor so that the child can openly express how the medication is effective or not effective.
Pray, it works too right along with the medication. Don't look to the medication as the sole healer, the mental illness has to be managed by the person as well, keep motivated and do all the things that you did before the diagnosis.

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K.W.

answers from Richland on

E.,

I just wanted to let you know that my husband's cousin has bio-polar and tried True Hope. It worked real well with her.

www.truehope.com is a non-profit organization that helps people with a wide range of mental illnesses actually get off their medications by dealing with the root cause. It's pretty incredible what they are doing. My SIL is just starting their program for her own minor case of bipolar. Later she plans on trying it with her daughter who has ADHD.

Might be worth checking into.

Take care,

K.

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M.C.

answers from Dallas on

Health care professional at MMP Health in Plano, TX - ###-###-####. She analyzes the hair to see what elements and metals are in the body that could be causing the problem. Then helps with the detox: diet, excercise, sleep, natural supplements, etc. She has helped others that were diagonised with bipolar. She is currently helping my twin sister (age 35) who is autistic. I'm amazed at the differrence. It's a long road but it is worth it. If you live out of town, you can call, they will mail the hair kit, you mail it in & then you can do a conference over the phone.

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S.G.

answers from Boca Raton on

E.,
I never saw this question originally and I would like to add something. All the advice you already received is wonderful, but I also MUST share this thought.
There is a very important and strong position in the child psych field that a true BP diagnosis can not be determined until after the mid 20s. It is a natural part of being a teenager to have mood swings. In addition to all the hormonal and other physical shifts a teens body is going through, there is also the simple fact of being in that crazy shifting time in life between childhood and adulthood. The job of teens is to rebel against authority in order to take steps toward independence, etc. Although I might choose to medicate my child to help him/her achieve greater balance, I would NEVER strap any child/teen with a diagnosis. In fact, I wouldn't see a doctor who was inclined to make one. It is a premature diagnosis and there are many fine doctors in the field who are horrified by their colleagues who will attach it to a teenager.
all the best...
S.

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J.B.

answers from Tucson on

I see you got a lot of replies. I haven't dealt with bi-polar disorder before, but I have a friend in Utah whose teenager has gotten tremendous results. If you'd like me to connect you to her, I'd be happy to do that. I believe God will lead you to answers!
J.
www.homebasedabundance.biz

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A.B.

answers from Dallas on

Hi E.,

I'm sorry that I am so late in responding, but felt compelled to answer you anyway.

I had my 1st suicide attempt when I was 13. I told a therapist, wanting help.... I was committed to a State Hospital for 6 weeks.
From that stay, I learned to keep my feelings to myself.

Throughout the years I was diagnosed as being Bipolar, but refused the "label" and decided that I was just at a crappy time in life and deserved to be depressed; that anyone in my shoes would be depressed too. I was hospitalized twice more, at age 21, for failed suicide attempts. I kept trying, but God must want to keep me around, because I should have been gone a long time ago.
Anyway, I finally accepted my diagnosis at age 35, during a "guess what?" ANOTHER hospital stay, for a suicide attempt....

I am only telling you these things, so that you don't let the people around your teen stigmatize his/her illness, so that their shame doesn't overshadow what is really going on.
If I had not let everyone convince me that Bipolar = Crazy, maybe I might have gone with the program much sooner in life. But then again, maybe it wouldn't have any effect on me.

I take my meds religiously, but I still can be set off. I feel like a trapped snake sometimes, with people poking sticks at me. The kind of people that poke sticks... don't let them near your teen. No matter how much sleep they get, how many vitamins, how much therapy they get.... they are always going to be on the verge of one thing to another. Those “poking sticks” people are always the kind that send me over the edge; unfortunately, I married one. Have I had more attempts, sure. I've had many. Most people I know that have this illness have tried many times, as well. I'm not sure if we're crying out for help, or God just won't let us die. I prefer to think that God isn't ready for me to go yet, but one day he will, and I really hope it is not by my own hands. I really hope and pray for that.

Personally, I don't think vitamins do anything for the illness. Sleep is important. Eating good? In this age, who eats good? That’s a lot easier to say than do. Just make sure they ALWAYS take their meds!

I think the most important thing you can do for your child is extenuate the GOOD things about being Bipolar, there are some:
1. We have incredible insight to others. Because we are so in tune with our emotions, we can sense others easily. It makes us very charismatic.
2. We are VERY creative. Again, all that thinking we do... good or bad, can have some dramatic results. People LOVE to be around us, because we are funny, witty and something about us is a little dangerous…
3. People pay good money to get the type of "High" that our bodies give us NATURALLY. Ride the Manic Wave!!! But don’t forget to take your Meds, to offset the typhoons!
4. You have an immediate "out" for the Armed Services – Uncle Sam does NOT want you! 
5. You have a good natured excuse for the lulls in your life, "Hey, what do you expect? I'm crazy!" HaHa!

OK, it might take a while for #5 to seem funny to you, but someday it will.

Everyone living and breathing person in the world has something wrong with them… at least we know what is wrong with us. Sometimes that is enough.

Good Luck! FYI - I am 37 now, and still kicking!

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S.F.

answers from St. Louis on

Dear E., I too have a teen with bipolar disorder. He is 19 and was diagnosed with ADHD, ODD, and Bipolar Disorder at about the age of 10. By now I presume you have seen the the chaois that this illness causes. It takes much patience and persistance to parent a child with this. Treatment is a long trial and error process. It may take some time to find the right balance of meds, then when you do hormones will necessitate a change. Patience, patience, and more patience. It is also imperative that your child is comfortable with his/her psychiatrist and psychologist. This can make or break treatment. I found the book, the Bipolar Child by Papalos to be my bible upon early diagnosis. You will come across many who refuse to acknowledge bipolar disorder as an illness and many who will say "maybe he/she will grow out of it". Society is slow to recognize bipolar disorder with the gravity it deserves. My best to you and your family.

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L.B.

answers from Honolulu on

Dear E.,

One of the causes of these types of diseases has to due with heavy metals which we all are exposed to. Please go to www.sharethecause.com/4betterhealth. This is a 10 minute documentary that may give you more information. I am a pastor, have raised 6 children, have 10 grandchildren and soon will have our 5th great grandchild. I have been in the health and nutrition field since 1978. Jehovah Rophe is our healer! Feel free to contact me anytime. Blessings in the powerful name of Jesus!

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J.S.

answers from Benton Harbor on

As a therapist who works with teens, younger children, and families I have a couple of suggestions for you (from many years of experience working in the mental health field). First, make sure that you get a correct diagnosis. The very best right now in getting an accurate diagnosis is a brain scan, there is some great work being done right now. Someone already gave you the link to Dr Daniel Amen's site which is www.amenclinics.com , but I have heard that other people do the SPECT/ brain scan imaging as well, so you may want to search in your area. DR. Amen has written a few books that couple be helpful. The book Healing ADD, talks about 6 types of ADD (one of which looks an awful lot like bipolar). Many of the symptoms are the same between Bipolar and ADD. This book could be very helpful. Here is what it talks about "Effective treatments include diet, exercise, medications, supplements, and behavioral interventions. Parenting, family and school strategies are also included, along with sleeping and thinking-style disorder-management.

This practical book brings a new level of understanding to this often difficult-to-diagnose and frequently misunderstood disorder. Aside from his clinical perspective, as the parent of 3 children who have ADD, Dr. Amen knows this disorder inside and out. " It is only $15, very worth it.

Second, I had a supervisor who once swore by people benefiting from having their micronutrients analyzed, it shows what your body is not using or needs more of. I have not worked personally with it, but I would do it if my child were having problems. Some children and teens can and do have true bipolar disorder, I used to be skeptical until I worked in the profession, learned more, and worked one-on-one with families and kids. Please know that bipolar disorder is VERY manageable once you get the appropriate help. Some people may scare you with horror stories, just remember that there are a tremendous amount of very successful people with bipolar disorder (Robin Williams, Katie Couric, etc.) It is not a death sentence, but a beginning to true understanding and getting the proper support in order to be successful in life.

If you want any other information, please email me.

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C.J.

answers from Washington DC on

you have received some very good advice. i wanted to add a couple of pieces. i am bipolar and my symptoms escalated in my late teens early twenties. i was finally treated after being misdiagnosed with general depression and given some very dangerous meds. i once read, and i wish i could remember where, a statistic saying something like it takes an average of 2 years and 5 doctors before a person with bipolar is diagnosed correctly. i believe this is probably true. unfortunately, some people are diagnosed bipolar and do not really have it and then they think they have been cured. please be careful of taking advice without your doctor. going on and off meds can be very dangerous! this often makes mania worse and can trigger rapid cycling!

i also wanted to mention the help i received from my therapist. i grew up in a very happy home and would not need a therapist except that i needed help understanding and managing my disease. i found that going to a therapist also gave me strategies for dealing with the ignorance of many people and to have the courage to do what i knew i needed to do (take my meds) without explaining myself to anyone else. many people initially dealing with bipolar are waiting for a reason to go off their meds and when so many people are saying you don't need them, well, that's when the trouble starts all over again.

the good news is that once a medication plan and support network is well established and a bipolar person is compliant s/he can have a very productive life. in fact i think in many ways i more grateful for my normal life because of my uneven past. just be supportive and remember after your child comes down from being manic s/he will probably be feeling terrible about the mess s/he made which will make the following depression worse.

i love the book 'An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness' by Kay Redfield Jamison. I have given a copy to the people closest to me. my mother was having trouble with the diagnosis until she read the book. she said she thought she was reading about me in parts. good luck!

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T.S.

answers from Waco on

Contact Danette Goodyear. Her website is www.northtexasdynamichealth.com. She has incredible results when no one else can help. I know several people who have had very positive results from her treatments (all natural). Her new patient appoinments are typically 4-6 months out.
I would love to hear from you if you see her.

TS

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L.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi E.,

My sister has the following diagnosis: Bipolar with psychotic features, major depression and Borderline personality. There is support for families and the actual person through an organization called National Association of the Mentally Ill. I'm currently taking a class for family members and how to understand what's happening, the latest research. One of the best features is that you are amoung others who know what you and your child are going through. I strongly urge you to check it out.

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K.C.

answers from New York on

Try to get the book Depression Free - Naturally. It's been a life-saving book for my friend who has 5 boys. One of them has bipolar. The meds made him worse. The advice in this book has helped tremendously.

How nutritious is your child's food/drink? Remember that the
big food companies know that many food additives are making us sick. They just want big profits...

Do not allow your child to consume any artificial sweeteners.
Too many side-effects, plus they are not natural. Check labels for artificial sweeteners, they lurk in far too many foods and beverages.

You can even cut out foods and beverages with corn syrup. It's much cheaper for the food companies to add corn syrup.
That isn't natural either.

Kristen Colello
ebook author / speaker

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L.M.

answers from Yakima on

E.,
I have a 16 year old son diagnosed ADHD,depression, anxiety and bi-polar. They have questioned lately which is causing his mood seings, his actually being bi-polar or the axiety and depression.
He takes Zoloft, Concerta and Abilify........Zoloft is for his depression, Concerta is for his ADHD and Abilify is for his moodswings. I think the combination is working well but itis early to tell with his concerta...he has only been taking it for a week.
I wish you all the luck getting your daughter on the right combination of medication to help her. Hang in there and if you ever need to talk please let me know.
Does your daughter go from being depressed to being angry? Is she defiant? Do things seem to effect her on a more dramatic level? Mac has problems with relationships with friends and his girlfriends. But Mac has trust issues really bad...he is actually our grandson...but we have had him since he was 3 mos old. He is just likeour own son havinghim that long. We are his parents.
It takes awhile to find the exactright mixtureof medicationso hang inthere. Mac has a behavioral counselor, psychiatrist...he meets with the psychiatrist that manages his medication once a month and his behavioral counselor twice a month. He is very demanding and takes alot of my time. Iput his sister incounselingalso just from whatshe deals with having these disorders. Iteffects the whole household. she is Mac's full sister and she is 17...we have had her since she was 22 mos.
Please let me knowif there is anything ican help you with from our experience.
There are a couple of very good books that I have read...
Mac has a very hard time in school...one book is "Teaching Teens with ADD and ADHD" by Chris A ZieglerDendy,M.S. most kids suffering with bi-polar have somesort of learning problem, usually associated with ADD/ADHD. This book is great and gives you some insight of what your rights are as far as school.
The other is "The Explosive Child" by Ross W. Greene, Ph.D. This is the handbook that the counselorsand psychiatrist use to treat them and it is great. It starts out with smaller children but works it's way to the older kids. I recommend both of them highly!
You will do good to read everything you can get your hands on...tolearn how to address issues with her and to avoid explosions. It takes so much patience an retraing on parenting skills to be able to manage these kids. They have trigger buttons and you can learn how to avoid them, it is worth it. They cannot be disciplined in the normal way...things that work with other children just make them worse. That is where the last book really helps. It teaches you how to deal with them and still stay in control.
I hope that ihavehelped you...L.

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B.R.

answers from Atlanta on

Hi! Have a friend who's 17 yr old daughter was dx'd a yr ago....What I DO know, is that bipolar folks get into trouble when they get off their meds...Seems to be part of the disease; they are doing FINE on lithium, or other med, and stop b/c they are ok...BIG trouble!!! Make sure you watch your child take med daily, let him / her know how important it is to stay on med, and why; LISTEN to issues he / she is facing w/ this diagnosis...TALK about it. There are many peeps who are bipolar, who stay on meds, who are having productive, NORMAL lives....tell your teen this also! Best to you!Also, make sure the doc does the needed blood tests to check blood levels of meds; recently heard of a doc who let it slide. Need therapeutic levels.

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C.W.

answers from Salt Lake City on

Hi, E.!

Sorry I, too am so delayed in responding.

I have twin 17 year old daughters (yes...TWINS!) that have BOTH been diagnosed as having Bipolar Disorder/borderline Personality Disorder! Talk about a WILD ride!

I have 2 other daughters (1 older and 1 younger). My ex-husband is bipolar.

My twins were diagnosed 2 1/2 years ago. It has been a WILD up and down ride with trying several different meds, finding the right psychiatrist, the right counselors, getting IEP's and 504 plans set up at school, etc.

I would speak with your school immediatly if you haven't already about settign up a 504 plan and a possible IEP. It has been a HUGE help in reducing stress on my twins.

One of my twins was in a day treatment program for about a month and half...that helped a lot with her behavior as she had daily counseling along with school.

I would like to caution you to be VERY aware as over medicating is just as dangerous as under medicating and can through them into a manic state.

I would also like to recommend another health drink for you to check into. It combined with another product (sock eye Salmon fish oil capsules) seems to have helped a lot with sleep and energy.

It's called Kyani. It's 40.00 for a month supply for the Sunrise (drink) or the Sunset (the fish oil capsules). We have tried lots of other fish oil tablets and they all cause an after taste or burping that is NOT very pleasant! The web site is: http://www.kyani.net/index.php. You only have to take 1 ounce each day.

If you are interested in getting a free weeks sample of the juice, please contact me and I'll arrange to get it to you.

Please make sure to take care of YOU!

Give yourself time-outs. It's my life saving grace to go for a drive or to go to the library and just sit and read since I don't have a husband at home to help me out.

Another tip -- put a pad lock on your medicine cupboard. I cannot tell you how many suicide attempts I have had to deal with between my ex-husband and my twins. It's not worth the stress to have the medications easily accessible. I put the twins pills in a 7 day pill organizer.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions! I feel your pain and my prayers are with you!

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M.H.

answers from Melbourne on

WATCH THE DIET!!! Carbohydrates play a huge part. They are as addictive as drugs and teens are hard to deal with anyway. Learn about probiotics (yogurt, acidophilus, etc.) Some herbs that may help: oil of wild oregano, olive leaf extract nasal spray by Seagate, colloidal silver -- Nature's Sunshine has the best, goldenseal, astragalus. Gaba may help personality.

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N.A.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi E.,

You do have a lot of people who care and share their ideas. Everyone of them gave you valuable information.
Sleep, diet, exercise and less stress is the key.
I am a wellness consultant and have seen behavior changes with those who get better rest. In some cases their is a chemical imbalance in the brain. I have seen some great results with many that I have put them on a magnetic pad to sleep on and they wake up more rested. Look at making your home into a green house. It is a healthier way to live. It makes a difference in how you feel. If you would like more info check out www.nikken.com/ninamarie check out the sleepsystem it was indorsed by the World Federation of Chiroprators as the most advanced sleep technology in the world.My family sleeps on one.
Wish you and your family wellness.

Feel free to call me if you have any questions
###-###-####

God Bless.

N. Marie

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H.H.

answers from Bangor on

My daughter was diagnosed with Bipolar at age 14. There were other tests and medicines tried first- her thyroid was checked, it was normal, the Dr. said she had depression, and was put on meds for that, after she attempted suicide- thank God she did not succeed, I became very proactive, more than I was before. One of the key things that helped her was finding the right therapist- someone she felt comfortable with and could trust, and learning coping skills from her therapist that were needed to help her deal with the symptoms of her bi-polar. And, of course the right medication, which she had to try a few before she was stabilized with the correct one. I wish you and your family all the best! My daughter is 19 now, and has been stable for some time now, and recognizes when she does not "feel safe", and talks to me about it so we may get the help she needs.

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D.F.

answers from Austin on

Hi E.

I don't have a child with bipolar disorder but I used to work at a children's psychiatric treatment center. Also, my mother-in-law and cousin are bipolar. Anyway, the first thing that pops in mind as advice is to not be afraid to "shop" around for a psychiatrist and therapist. I'd say it is vital that you and your teenager BOTH feel comfortable with these people.

In Him,
D.

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T.M.

answers from Utica on

I have sister-in-laws who have adopted their children and 3 of them are diagnosed bi-polar. Two of the kids are in residential homes. I have seen with one nephew that when he was at home, that he was not on a good sound schedual as has been mentioned in other posts. He was getting hold of sweets and junk food and just not eatting right or taking his meds properly. He was in his upper teens and very determined to do what the other older sibblings were doing. Was not the activities that he needed to do, but he felt different and wanted to be part of the gang so to speak. He had many episodes. Now that he is in the home, he has good nutritional foods, he has a job, his meds are taken regularly, he is getting rest, he feels productive and not a burden. He is doing wonderfully. He loves to live where he is. My niece was in a home when i met my husband. they are both over 21, so being on their own is how they see this. Now my other nephew is not as severe and was able to get through a lot of the tough stuff, he leads a productive life with a family of his own. He actually is raising his twins and his girlfriends 2 children. He takes care of himself. The severity of the bp is a big factor as for the final out come. However I have the faith that these kids can all be healed, I am a Christian. I believe taht sometimes what they dx is just to put a label on a kid so they can pump them full of drugs when the situation can be controled by diet. there are those who truely need the meds in order to manage life, but there are others that only need to cut the sugar out of their diet. You are the only one here who knows exactly what your child is dealing with, as a parent, it is most heartbreaking to see your child suffering or hurting. Keep your chin up, You are a loving and caring parent looking for help, your child has already been blessed. Just don't let them over medicate, and if not necessary, don't let them medicate. watch the diet and rest and excersize. good healthy exercise. Maybe go to the local school and run on the track together. Make it a family affair. play ball together. Be Blessed. T.

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K.C.

answers from Kansas City on

I know, I'm kind of late, but I just wanted to say... I was diagnosed with bipolar at about 18. She is lucky that you paid attention and she was diagnosed early. I commend you for that. I would also suggest looking into some hormone problems if you haven't. I find that mine is related to hormones, and some (but few) psychiatrists deal with hormonal problems. I didn't find out until recently that I have a thyroid problem, and it seems to be related.

Anyway, mostly I just wanted to commend you for seeing a problem and not denying it. It's hard, and I will be thinking of you and your daughter.

K..

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B.B.

answers from St. Louis on

E., I can't give you advice for your son any better than what has already been given, but I wanted to let you know that it is definitely worth all the effort you can give to him. I am 51 and have major depression, which has been treated successfully since I was 34. I have had depression as early as I can remember, since I was about 4. I spent 30 years wandering around trying to find anything to fix me, but nothing was available at the time, no one even knew what was wrong. I know your son will be EXTREMELY trying at times, but I just wanted to let you know that the treatment options now are SO well worth them for your child.

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T.T.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hello, E.,

Such great advice. The one other thing I noticed is no real emphasis on essential fatty acids. Excellent results in bipolar challenges. Two tablespoons of a quality oil (stored in the refrigerator) each day over the next two weeks can give you some inspired results.

I have a Ceragem which is very useful that you are welcome to come and use if you are near Altadena/Pasadena.

My very best to you and your family!

T.

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S.G.

answers from Tucson on

My heart is with you. My son, now 17, was diagnosed at 11 as bipolar and Aspberger. One doc said he'd never live to be 16. Lots of therapy, love, time, patience and by the grace of God he will be 18 in Aug. AND graduate (with accomodations) from high school!! Feel free to contact me at [email protected]____.com can chat. be strong...pray...ask for help...support groups...therapy...and laughter. Appreciate the good moments.

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E.M.

answers from Bakersfield on

Hi-
I just saw this...I have been diagnosed with a mild version of BPD and have opted out of medication. This means, however, that I must take extreme care to make sure that my health is in good order. Excercise, diet, NO SODA, vitamins, etc. A support system is the most important thing your teen can have.
Now, my husband has depression, too, and takes medication for it. If you opt into medication, it is a patient bearing road to getting it all squared away. Remember that you need at least a month to tell if a medication is in good working order. Really great psychiatrists will not be quick to change medications or doses because they know it takes time. If your teen takes in alot of caffeine, there are some issues to look at also. Caffeine is a natural anti depressant. So going off of it all at once can cause a huge swing. Taper off, giving your teen a month to be "caffeine free." The same with refined sugars. They really mess with the body's chemistry.Make sure your teen feels listened too in every instance and never blow off any commentary they may make. It may be your child trying to communicate with you.
Whether you decided to go the medicated route, or the non medicated, it is a tough decision. Both roads come with their bumps. Choosing what is best for your child depends on the severity of the case and what they are willing to do. For me, I know it is linked to the female make-up. For my husband, we know that without medication he could not function. Some people take a very mild medication and a few years later taper off... Every instance is unique, but the symptoms and effects are all the same. Remember that the anguish your child is feeling may not be visible, but it is just as real. I know it is frustrating, but with prayer and good doctor leading you in a healthy direction, you can find the right path.
Good luck and many prayers to you.

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P.C.

answers from Dallas on

i have biopolar i am a 43 year old mum with children i live in the uk,my husband works away all week as a truck driver i have self harmed as well it is hard to deal with and hard to explain to family as they dont understand.I am on medication setraline

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T.K.

answers from Houston on

I have a 12 year old son diagnosed with bipolar and ADD. He is on medication and doing beautifully. We have had a hard road to this point. Find a good psychatrist and therapist. Teens tend to resist medication more than younger children. Even my own son will sometimes skip his medicine and I can tell. Stand strong the child may resist but you will have to be the one to help them through. The highs and lows come quickly and people with bipolar disorder can be harmful to themselves in many ways, such as driving too fast, they like to drink it takes away some of the feelings, drugs may entice them etc.

You will know what needs to be done.

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A.D.

answers from St. Louis on

Hello E.,
Get all the information you can and trust your judgement. There is information on line etc.
There are also many multilevel marketing products out there such as Vemma(mangosteen) and Mona Vie(acai berry).
Do your research on them as well...at almost $40 a bottle per week (unless you become a distributor) ( I know one for Mona Vie)
you be the judge....Check out other sites than just the the marketing sites...
Sending love and good thoughts
A. D

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N.F.

answers from Los Angeles on

I can only say, I'm sorry. I hope YOU are able to find help for your daughter. I also have a daughter who is now 25 who suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder which makes Bipolar look like a picnic. Not one Dr will even try to help her as they don't know enough about this to help. They have admitted this to us. I have been through several suicide attempts, several 911 calls, and have lost count of times she has come close to death. I feel for you and can relate to everything you are going through. My daughter has been going through this since she was about 12.
At first we thought hormones, then just bad behavior. She goes back and forth so much with behavior it is like walking on eggshells all the time. They tried meds but the Dr said they need to keep changing them almost monthly and that is how long it takes for one to take effect, so they ruled it out and said that therapy was the only thing that would help. We tried that and not one therapist wants to help her. She is now on State Disability as she can't go into the workforce due to her mood swings. The state does not pay enough to eat so we are so strapped for money taking care of her. Imagine being 25 and having basically no life. I keep praying something will happen to help her. She is such a sweet gal when she has good days.
All I can say to you about your daughter is please do not give up trying to get help. I still have hope that someday they will find cures for these illnesses and our children will have peace.
I wish you all the luck and prayers for her. I know this really isn't advice or any help, just wanted you to know you are not alone.

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