Bipolar Disorder Support Group

Bipolar disorder is not just a single disorder, but a category of mood disorders marked by periods of abnormally high energy and euphoria, often accompanied by bouts of clinical depression. This is the place to talk about your experience with bipolar disorder, learn from others' experiences, and find support.

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12 Year Old Possibly Bipolar? (Advice Needed)

Hi everyone. I have a daughter who is 12 whom I believe may be Bipolar. I'm hoping to get some advice on what to do from this point. I guess I should start at the beginning...

My brother was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder a few years ago. I believe my father (who has passed) may have also had it and I believe my other brother might have it, though he's never been diagnosed.

My daughter (the oldest of 4) is 12 years old. She has been different from my other children from the get-go. She was extremely clingy as a child, even when around people she knew well and was comfortable. She was extremely hyper and easily distractable. By age 6 I was having a hard time reaching her verbally as she didn't seem to understand simple reasoning at all. After evaluation from the schools and her doctor, they diagnosed her as ADHD. While she does show some symptoms of ADHD, in my opinion she was never a "clear cut" case. My son, since that time, has also been diagnosed ADD - and he IS a clear cut case.

Anyway, we did try different meds (Adderall, Adderall XR, Dexedrine, Strattera, Paxil, etc.) but there were two side effect common with all of them. First of all, her mood shifts were extreme coming down from the meds. My son doesn't experience these types of extreme moods coming off of his meds. The second side effect was that in the year she was on meds, she didn't gain any weight. The meds DID help her at school with attention, etc., but emotionally they made her a mess.

After 1 year of trying to find the right med, we took her off of them altogether. I started working with her with behavior modification and self-esteem building. We tried grape seed extract for attention (herbal), and it seemed to help. She has since not been on any meds and, for the most part, is an A/B student. She's never had defiancy or behavioral problems. As she's gotten older the distractability, figiting and hyperactivity has decreased. Either she truly was never ADHD, or she's learned to live with it and has matured some.

Because Bipolar runs in my family, I did a lot of research on Bipolar in adolescents. Some of what she was experiencing hit home. The paxil (anti-depressant) made her manic. The stimulants made her manic then depressed.

She has gone through a lot in her 12 short years of life and has had a lot to deal with. However, her inability to deal with life in general is abnormal.

Back in December she started threatening to hurt herself. I found out she had tried to cut herself before. That night, she was admitted into the adolescent mental unit for 8 days because of cutting/suicidal thoughts. After 8 days of therapy and learning coping skills, she was diagnosed with mood disorder with anxiety.

Lately she's gotten a lot worse. She's extremely angry all the time. Her expectations of what should be done to make her happy are completely unrealistic. She still thinks about hurting herself and as of tonight, threatened to run away. She is generally jealous of everyone I give any attention to, including her younger brothers and sister. She expects to be the center of attention in all areas. She has a very hard time making/keeping friends. Her outlook on life is extremely negative and when I try to talk to her about changes she can work on making, she doesn't want to hear them. It seems that everything wrong with her life is someone else's fault and she expects everyone around her to fix them.

I'm trying to determine what to do next. She is taking Trileptal (mood stabilizer) and Trazadone (anti-depressant used to help her fall asleep). The meds seemed to work for a while, but I'm not sure they're working right any longer. She's on a high dose of the Trazadone and can't go any higher. The trileptal might be able to be adjusted.

Does she sound Bipolar to any of you? Is this something I should look into? I don't want to label her and have always tried to stear away from this, but the more and more signs I see the more convinced I am becomming.

Any suggestions, advice, stories, etc. you all might have would be greatly appreciated. I'm at a loss here on what to do. I've never dealt with this before.

Thanks everyone.

Crystal

Replies

deleted_user
deleted_user

Crystal, so sorry to hear all of this...My twins are bipolar as well. My boy twin was dxed at age 6, and my girl at 9. They are now 10...What you are explaining does surely sound like bipolar. I would try to see the doc with what you have seen. I wish you the best, if you need me, feel free to message me! I am going to bed soon, but will surely get back to you a.s.a.p. Jess
nobody666
nobody666

ITS BOTH SCARY AND GOOD THAT THEY CAN DX SO YOUNG NOW BUT WITH THE HIGH LEVEL OF BP IN MY FAMILY MY PDOC IS STRONGLY SUGGESTING I HAVE MY SON REVIEWED IT MAKES ME NERVOUS
deleted_user
deleted_user

I will be praying for you that it all works out for the best in the end.
deleted_user
deleted_user

I definately think you are on the right track, and although thinking of being "Labeled," can suck, the help is worth it. I have struggled with this disease since as far back as I can remember. Of course I didn't understand what is was, but the choices I made in life due to this problem caused myself and others around me all kinds of pain and problems. Get her help now, and explain that this is a disease that she is not responsible for. This is a delicate age for her, I know, but the big B needs to be nipped in the bud.
deleted_user
deleted_user

Hi Chords2diefor -- I have a son who is now 20 who was dx at 7 with bipolar. If the doc at the hospital dx her with mood disorder with anxiety, then he/she was headed in this direction already with the mood disorder label. Sometimes docs are reluctant to say the word bipolar with kids but, it is what it is. I'd highly suggest you read the book "The Bipolar Child" and check out the website www.bpkids.org great info. Good luck and we're here if you need help
deleted_user
deleted_user

Hi, sorry to hear your daughter is having all these problems. I have bipolar II,ocd,add,si and fight or flight anxiety all the time. I always knew something wasn't quite right with me as a child......but it took until six years ago to know exactly what. The fact that she's not a clear cut case......is saying something.....she could have multiply disorders like me....which is quite common. Bipolar,add,ocd are sister disorders....very similar! So, I would keep going back until you really believe that's what's she has......then you can start learning everything about the disorder to help her cope and learn tools that can help make sure live better. I've, been to so many doctors....some just want to medicate you others there style of training is to just listen.....can't stand that kind.....does nothing to help me.....as I feel lost inside this head of mine.....doesn't matter what meds or what therapy I feel like an old dog who can't be taught any new trick. My brain is at overload! I wish you luck, strength and above all hope! My, mother has been my rock,my best friend,my helper,my listener....as my four kids and my loving husband. But, for me the biggest problem is living life.....I'm so overwhelmed.....when one disorder is going that way another one starts going a different way.....how can anyone live in this madness! But, I will keep fighting......MY LOVING FAMILY! Sorry, I'm rambling take care sending hugs to you and your daughter.....and if I can help in any way i'm here. Zoey
deleted_user
deleted_user

I wouldnt let any one diagnose my pre -teen until they are older. hormones havent kicked in yet and some children have rougher teen years than others. I suggest treating each symptom separately and keeping a chart or journal that you leave brief comments in daily. Cutting requires good therapy not medication.
I know, Ive been where you are. Good luck.
deleted_user
deleted_user

Thanks, everyone, for your words of encouragement and support. I did some research last night and as frightening as it is, she certainly fits the mold. I also read that a child who has Bipolar that's left untreated can develop narcissism. I looked child narcisism up and was horrified to find how she fits into this category. I've been telling her counselors/doctors about her clinginess, separation anxiety, unrealistic jealousy of her siblings or ANYONE I show attention to. Her demands for my attention are so high. I've often told docs/counselors that I could give her 150% of my attention and it STILL wouldn't be enough. Narcissism was described as a child who you could do everything for but it still wouldn't be enough to fill the vast void inside of them. This certainly sounds like her.

I'm lost at this point. I'm going to call her counselor to see if she can refer her to a psych. Unfortunately, I only have medicaid for her and her brother at this time. Psychs are very limited in this area and most do not take the medical card. Her counselor might be able to help me get her the proper help.

I find myself getting angrier and angrier at her because of the disrespect she shows me. She treats everyone around her as if they "owe" her and they should "bow down to her". She yells at everyone. I'm trying to put the anger in its place - because I'm not certain she control a majority of this. But then, she's also extremely manipulative - so that complicates things.

I'll keep y'all posted on what transpires from here. Please keep her in your prayers.
deleted_user
deleted_user

You got it -- prayers your way and please keep us posted. He may be 20 now, but i've not forgotten the struggles involved getting him to this point. Good luck.
deleted_user
deleted_user

oops -- she/ sorry
deleted_user
deleted_user

There are so many tools, cues, learning info. to use out there to help with all that you have discussed. It is not easy and takes a lot of effort. Yet, at 12yo...come on, there is so much time to learn how to cope differently to new situations...and really, has anyone asked her why she is angry. Get her with a therapist that is dealing with her present state...and focuses on daily change and how she can improve and use skills to help her deal with all of her surroundings. Has she dealt with her father's death? Are there other things in her life that may be affecting her emotionally that she needs to have someone actually pay attention to her about...does she even get attention? We act out aggressively first because that is our first known response for attention. Remember when she was 15 months old? We all know how to act out to get responses....to learn to talk about emotions comes from paying attention to the child and helping them work through their moments. This is all learned. If she never learned it...she will show aggression and act out until someone sits with her and helps her talk about how she feels. It is work.. Life success is work. However, there is no excuse for saying it runs in the family...I don't believe that. Depression runs in my family. I don't sit on my couch all day and forget life. I am depressed often. I have realized that to make life happen you have to make an effort to see change.
deleted_user
deleted_user

pennylane5...

Because Bipolar runs in my family, I've done a lot of research on this topic for both adult Bipolar and adolescent Bipolar.

Yes, I've asked her why she's angry and to be honest with you, she can only tell me because of her Dad and her school.

She is currently seeing not only ONE therapist, but two of them. Her Father is not dead, he has suffered from severe depression for over a year, in which time he pretty much dropped out of her life. He has recently begun getting help and they are beginning to see each other more, but there are still issues.

In the last 2 years he has gotten 2 dui's and a cocaine posession charge. His driver's license has been taken away for at LEAST 5 years. The loss she feels is because her relationship with her dad will never be the same as it was because even though he's getting help, he doesn't make it a priority to not let his driving situation change their activities. She misses the Dad he "used to be".

In therapy she's learning cognitive behavior therapy and how to control negative/positive thought processes. She also learns coping skills to avoid going down the "dark road" when she gets into her moods.

She gets PLENTY of attention. She is the oldest of 4 children and is so demanding of my attention/time that she probably gets more attention than the other 3 combined. This is actually something I'm trying to change because I feel I have contributed to her dependancy of me.

We talk all the time about how she feels, what she's happy about, what she's sad about, what can be done to make her life easier on her, etc.

Have you researched Bipolar Disorder before? The reason I'm asking is because you stated there is no excuse for saying it runs in the family and that you don't believe it does. Unfortunately, it's been proven that it IS biological and CAN run in the family even skipping generations. I'm not saying she IS Bipolar, that's why I put this topic on the message board - because I'm not sure and wanted some input from others. I AM saying it's very possible and more likely because it IS hereditary and does run in my family.

Believe me, I invest a LOT of time and effort into my children. I am a stay-at-home mom and sacrifice a lot so that their emotional needs can be met. I've done everything I can think of to help her out and it seems it's just never enough to break through. She's in therapy, is on medication, is paid attention to, is talked to, is loved on, is told on a daily basis she is loved and is important/special. Lack of attention, priority, support, parenting, therapy, understanding, care, compassion, affection, communication, etc. is not the problem, that is one thing I'm VERY sure of.
cb72
cb72

Hm... Sounds like my husband, and he's 40. Sure makes me think. Have you looked into Borderline Personality Disorder? That overlaps with bipolar a lot, except for the 'chronic feeling of emptyness'.
deleted_user
deleted_user

I've done a little bit of research on borderline personality disorder and have also discussed this with her therapist/psychiatrist. They don't believe she has developed this yet. However, I have read that if Bipolar is left undiagnosed and untreated, it can manifest borderline personality disorder as well as other things like narcissism, etc.
deleted_user
deleted_user

I think being evaluated by a good child psychiatrist is what's needed and I don't want to undermine your motherly instincts in any way. Otterheart does make a good point though about hormones. Many preteens and teens think the world is owed them and on top of that you are dealing with divorce issues which is hard for some children to accept. Best of luck to you and I'm sure you will do whats best for your child.