Discipline 101: Children With Bipolar Disorder

Disciplining per se is difficult. Finding the right strategy in combination with the appropriate level of strictness but still show love and affection is a hard formula to master. Imagine how hard it can be to discipline a child with a mental disorder which has the classical symptom of the shifting moods. This is where the challenge and the test of patience come in for families with children diagnosed with bipolar disorder. According to experts, the basic and the general blueprint for disciplining is still applicable to a child with bipolar disorder since mostly, they are children. There are just some modifications when it comes to specific methods since there should be accommodation and understanding of the condition.

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Psychiatrists Emphasize The Importance Of Sharing A Meal (Parenting A Bipolar Teenager)

Family status is complicated when you are raising a teenager diagnosed with bipolar disorder.  It has been complicated even before the diagnosis of all the irritations, separation anxiety, and tantrums.   But often when I would raise this concern to her pediatrician, he would tell me to let her be, she’s just a kid. And so that is what I did.   

 

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How To Handle Grief And Loss

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Grief and losses are normal occurrences in human experience, and no man is excluded from the emotions that go with it. Grief and losses are challenging, but certain situations that further intensify the response to these events such as mental health disorders, poor coping mechanism, etc. People with mental health issues might aggravate their symptoms or even worse, a relapse of episodes. This is also applicable for children with mental health disorder. For many of these age groups, it is challenging to handle loss because their facilities to process these experiences are still immature, and on top of that, they still must handle the symptoms of the mental disorder.

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How To Detect If Your Child Is Being Bullied

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“One of the hardest parts is when David started to go to school. Other children in school picked on him and he would tell us that they are calling him weird names.” Dana shared her challenges on having a bipolar child.

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Do Bipolar Kids Have Antisocial Personality Disorder?

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Similarly different. Some say there is a thin line separating bipolar disorder from an antisocial personality disorder. From the behaviors being presented, one can objectively see that there are similarities in aggressiveness and hyperactivity of the child. Nonetheless, these mental health conditions should be thoroughly assessed and diagnosed by a mental health professional to formally say that the child has an either bipolar or antisocial personality disorder. Understanding these conditions requires thorough observation and knowledge on how the symptoms are presented especially in children and young adolescents.

Children and adolescents experience mood shifts as part of their growing up. If these emotions continue to be extreme and hamper the normal function and activities, it could mean a mental health state that needs evaluation.

Bipolar and Antisocial Personality Disorder: Similarities and Differences

Bipolar disorder in children alone is somehow difficult to recognize as the symptoms are quite similar to ADHD, conduct disorder, or even the typical childhood behavior of being rowdy, energetic, or shy and moody. It is called bipolar because it presents two major emotional disturbances – mania and depression – all occurring in irregular cycles within a day. These two emotions can rapidly alternate with each other resulting in irritability with a moment of wellness between occurrences, or feeling of both manic and depressed at the same time. Thus, children with BD are described as impulsive, shifting between aggressive and withdrawn.  Parents would not consider these symptoms significant until diagnosed. As early as six years old, children can be diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

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An antisocial personality disorder is characterized by impulsive manners, high risk for imprisonment secondary to criminal acts, addictive disorders and desperate behaviors. A person with ASPD has the likelihood of becoming a sociopath if not controlled or managed. Most cases of ASPD is detected during the adolescent period as the teenager is more inclined to perform prohibited acts or violating orders.

Two Conditions In One

A person with ASPD having manic episodes may manifest unrealistic expectations, high self-esteem, and grandiosity. The person can mask his insecurities as someone, who is dominant and is ahead of everyone. And when the circumstances are not in his favor and against his unrealistic expectations, making his high regard towards himself threatened, thus depression takes place the manic behaviors, but unlikely to remain for an extended period. Because a person with ASPD will not let himself feel down for so long, instead to regain his self, a further affirmation of his power and control will be more evident, and this is often through the commission of crimes. A person who has ASPD has no feeling of guilt after all and will not recognize the presence of the condition.

Final Evaluation Still Needed

So, the question of whether children with bipolar disorders have an antisocial personality disorder, the answer can only be provided after going a thorough psychiatric evaluation. Not all bipolar disorders have antisocial personality disorders. However, many cases show the interlinking of these disorders in one condition alone. One general rule is that a person cannot be diagnosed with ASPD until he or she reaches 18 years old. Until then, the teenager is provided with the diagnosis of conduct disorder wherein clinical manifestations of bipolar disorders also prevalent.

 

Helping Children Grieve Over The Loss Of Pets

Children with bipolar condition gain more positive experiences from their pets. If your child lost a pet, you can really see and feel their grief if this pet dies. This article will discuss helping them cope and go through the grieving process.

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Sleep Disturbance In A Teenager With Bipolar Illness

Everyone needs a good quality of night sleep to function well and avoid irritability the next day. A good sleep is even more essential in sustaining a teenager diagnosed with bipolar disorder.  It will help alleviate the symptoms and lessen the risk of having a manic episode.

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How Bipolar Disorder Takes A Grip On Family Relationships

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A person with bipolar disorder has mood swings from being depressed to becoming hyperanimated.  Some persons with bipolar disorder may have mood swings that could range from mild to moderate while others instead have severe symptoms.  But whether mild or severe, a sudden change in their mood and attitude can affect the atmosphere around them, causing the people who are with them to feel a bit down, too, especially if they don’t understand what the disease is about and why the person acts the way she does.

Emotional and Social Effects

Having a younger sister with a bipolar disorder is hard.  It’s like facing an emotional challenge every day.   And because we are going to the same school, it’s hard to avoid the stare of our schoolmates.  There are those who would whisper at our backs, and there are those who would vulgarly talk about us as we passed through the hallways.  Making friends is never easy because they know her mood swings.  They don’t know anything about her situation, and they are afraid that she will just be violent anytime.  Yes, because she did it this one time when someone tried to bully her.  There are times when she will just sit alone in one corner and will not talk to anyone and then will suddenly burst into tears.  They taught she’s crazy or something, and the worst part is they thought we are the same, that anytime, I will turn into something like her.

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Our circle of friends and social activities were limited because of her condition.   Can I blame her or should we blame my father’s genes for passing on this illness to her?

Family Systems Effects

When you have a sibling with bipolar disorder, not only are your parents’ time for you compromised but even money and energy.   And I keep on hearing from my mom and dad, “We’ll cut the budget because your sister still needs to attend her therapy session and have to allocate some money for additional medicines.”

Sometimes I hate it when we had planned on going on a vacation and then suddenly everything will be canceled just because she doesn’t want to go or she doesn’t feel like it.  Even going out with my friends is sometimes not allowed, and if ever I go out, it’s just limited time, especially on days when I have to watch over my sister because my parents can’t come home because of work.

Sometimes, I will ask my mom if we can bond together like go out shopping or just eat out. She’ll answer yes and then suddenly she would call up her sister to come with me.  I can’t even talk to my parents about my problems because I know that their minds are full of my sister’s condition.  But what about me? I also need them.

Why do I have to sacrifice so much just for my sister?  Is she the only daughter?  I also need my parents as much as she does.

Sometimes, I can’t help thinking about why life is so unfair.  Bipolar illness is so cruel to do this to our family.  Bipolar disorder takes a grip not only on my sister’s life but the wellbeing of our whole family.

There are nights when I would hear my parents arguing about her.  Sometimes, I would listen to them worrying about my sister’s future. How will her situation be when they’re no longer around to guide and assist her? I understand the stress and anxiety they are experiencing, and I am trying my best not to be an additional burden to them, and I am also planning my future because I know she will be under my care when we get older.

Every family experiences a lot of trials and problems, and there will always be conflict whether a bipolar illness is present or not.  Understanding and communication will always play a vital role in any relationship.

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Being the eldest, I feel burdened by this responsibility of becoming that glue that keeps on holding our family together.  No matter how lonely I feel inside, how hurt I am every time I feel the pain my parents are going through, I have to understand them. It is never easy to accept the fact that your daughter will need intervention throughout her lifetime to survive.   I may sometimes feel jealous of my sister who has all my parents’ attention, but I also pity her for her situation.   It may sound selfish, but sometimes I also feel thankful that I was not the one who has bipolar illness.  I may sometime hate her situation and I hate her illness, but I love my sister. Communication between us will always be open and honest because she’s the only sister I have and I am hers.  And we had a pact that we will not let her bipolar illness get in our way as sisters.

 

Family-Focused Therapy Saves Family Relationships

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Having a kid with bipolar disorder is very stressful and affects not only us parents, but our family and friends as well.   It is quite tough to control the disabling effects of this disorder.  Additionally, having your bipolar child take his medications is one of the most challenging aspects of being a parent of bipolar kids.

Bipolar patients, especially kids and teens, have a high likelihood of medication nonadherence.  In fact, a study shows that only 30% of this group of patients take their medications on a regularly scheduled basis.  Relapse occurs after abrupt discontinuation of drugs.

Reasons for discontinuation of taking their medications include medication side effects, social stigma, and belief that they are already cured and will not have another episode.

Medications Are Not Enough

According to some therapists and as studies show, medicines are not enough in addressing the symptoms of bipolar disorder.  But there are some pieces of evidence which reveal that non-medicine therapeutic interventions could enhance a patient’s outcome.   Some parents try to make the most of these interventions in order to help their children and to keep the family together as they deal with the illness.

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Family-Focused Therapy

There are many therapeutic interventions in treating a bipolar disorder such as

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Psychoeducation
  • Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy
  • Family intervention
  • Cognitive remediation and function remediation
  • Mindfulness-based interventions

One that is proven successful for bipolar patients is family-focused therapy or FFT.  This therapy helps them to be more stable and lessen the possibility of relapse.

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How It Works

In this kind of therapy, the therapist educates each family member about bipolar disorder and all related problems linked to it, like family members and caregivers getting burned out when dealing with the family member with bipolar disorder.

This method hopes to

  1. Build better communication skills that will help families minimize the stress this illness causes them, so they can work together in solving the issues related to family relationships, not on the bipolar alone.
  2. Teach them to identify the symptoms and recognize signs of any awaiting episodes and relapses.
  3. Allow them to engage more efficiently in resolving conflicts with minimal undesirable feelings.
  4. Teach them how to use problem-solving skills and management approaches mainly designed to assist members with bipolar disorder.
  5. Introduce to the families some constructive steps they can take when the patient is having difficulties with the disease.

Success Of Family Therapy In Keeping Family Together

A study from randomized controlled trials have shown that FFT is useful in helping the patients avoid relapses.    This method of therapy helps the patient and even the family members recover from bipolar episodes much faster than without the intervention, making it far more effective than other types of psychotherapy.

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I can say that this family-focused therapy saved our family relationships from falling apart.   Taking extra care of kids with bipolar disorder, addressing their particular needs, and why we are giving them more attention is hard to explain to their siblings who don’t have the disease.  There are many family stressors caused by having a bipolar child. Even attending parties and gatherings have to be considered.  I don’t want to deprive my other kids the chance to socialize and be with their friends.  FFT allowed us to come up with a solution to this situation.  It had taught us techniques on how all our kids can enjoy the party and what to do when we sense that our kids with bipolar illness are about to have an episode.

I know that as my kids with bipolar mature, the problems that come with it will also add up.  The mood swings might get worse especially as they reach puberty, their attitude might change, and they may be influenced by their peers. Sadness and other symptoms might also get worse as I know that there are limitations to all these therapies and medications that they are receiving.   But with continuous treatment, I’m hopeful that we can survive the challenges brought by bipolar disorder – as a family.

 

Your Child’s Bipolar Illness Can Put Your Marriage On The Rocks

Bipolar disorder can be seen in any child of any age.  And very much like that of an adult, they have mood swings, from mania to depression, and they can be violent as well.

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Our Son Is Our Treasure We Almost Lost To Bipolar Illness

My husband and I waited for years before our first child was born.  The happiness that we felt the very moment we found out that I was pregnant was beyond words.  We did everything to make ours and the baby’s journey through my pregnancy smooth sailing, something that we handled with excitement and care for the baby. We already felt how much we loved him even though he was still inside me.

When he came into the world, we were very thankful that he was healthy and he seemed like a happy baby.  Like other excited parents, we documented every progress of his growth, his every first – first baby talk, first steps, first run, and the first day of school.  We tried to give him everything that sometimes we were warned by friends and relatives that he might grow up to be a spoiled kid.

While in grade school, his teachers noticed some mood swings, and then he started exhibiting violent behaviors toward his classmates and with one of his teachers.  He can be very unruly when he’s home, but I never thought he would be unmanageable even in school.  The school summoned us multiple times, and we were requested to undergo some counseling with him, and so we did but to no avail, I guess.

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My husband is the disciplinarian type, and he and my kid started to have fights about his attitude, especially the way he disrespects us and others.  Of course, I would come to my son’s rescue.  I tried to tell my husband not to be too hard on our son as this could just be a phase, or just the result of us showering him with so much attention and material things and too much pampering.

Things got worse in school and in our house.  There were days when my son would not come out of his room and days when he would flee and wander the streets at night when he was unable to sleep.  These things made my husband mad for real that often we end up having an argument.   I can feel that slowly he is becoming distant not just from our child but me as well.

How Counseling Helped Us Save The Marriage And Our Son

The everyday fighting, arguments, me siding my son, his always coming home late and becoming less and less caring had added to my burden.  I felt like I was all alone looking after my son and supporting him.   I felt deserted by my husband.

I sought counsel, and during the session, I mentioned how my son’s behavior would be the cause of our disagreements.  Our relationship started to turn sour since my son became uncontrollable.   My counselor advised that I have my son checked as she sensed that there’s something wrong with him, and so I followed her advice.  She recommended a doctor, and we visited him.  After a few visits, the doctor confirmed that my son has bipolar disorder.  His tantrums, insomnias, eloping behaviors, especially his violent acts are not just about puberty or being a spoiled kid after all.

I explained this to my husband, and I can see clearly from the way he looked that he felt like a loser for having a son with such disorder.  I encouraged him that maybe it would be better if we both undergo counseling and also bring our son to a therapist who specializes in children with bipolar disorder.   It’s hard convincing him, but after some time, he agreed to come with me.  The therapist explained to us our family’s complicated situation – how it can ruin our relationship as husband and wife if we will focus on its adverse effect in our lives, how it can destroy their relationship as father and son, and what will eventually happen if my husband continues to give our son the cold shoulder and just imposing punishments without hearing him out.

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Slowly, with the help of our counselors and our son’s therapist, my husband learned to embrace our situation.   He has participated in the interventions my son needed to reduce or even avoid his mania and depressions.   He now knows how to handle the circumstances correctly, and the best part is that we are now in this together.  Though there are still times when he runs out of patience, he can readily shift back when I remind and calm him down.

Managing a kid with bipolar disorder can put any marriage on the rocks, especially if the kid is not yet diagnosed, and the parents are just focusing on his misconducts.

Rowdy behaviors are part of the childhood and teenage years.  It’s natural for them to feel irritable, angry, hyperactive, rebellious sometimes.  However, if these behaviors have gone severe, becoming out of control, and causing problems especially between your relationship as couples, it may mean more than just undergoing a phase in life.