Until recent years, medical science did not widely recognize that children can experience other mental illnesses besides attention deficit hyperactivity-disorder. In fact, most doctors refused to diagnose children with bipolar disorder even if the symptoms supported such a diagnosis. Bipolar disorder is a potentially serious condition where a child can rapidly swing from over-excitement, or mania, into serious depression.
A potential complication of ADHD is that the symptoms of it can ov
erlap or mimic the symptoms of other psychiatric disorders, especially bipolar. Because most doctors now recognize that children as young as seven years old can suffer from bipolar illness, it is sometimes hard for professionals and parents alike to recognize whether a child has ADHD, bipolar, or both.
Any adolescent who seems to struggle with depressive moods as well as impulsive outbursts or inattention could very well have ADHD co-occurring with bipolar disorder, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health. Unfortunately, the first-line treatment for ADHD of stimulant drugs is usually inappropriate for a child who is also bipolar.
Stimulants such as Adderall and Ritalin can trigger an over-excited and agitated state of mania in a child or adult who has bipolar. However, if the doctor gives a bipolar/ADHD child an antidepressant such as Wellbutrin that can also trigger mania. A “cocktail” of drugs such as an antidepressant and a mood stabilizer such as lithium or Tegretol is usually the best line of treatment for a child experiencing multiple mood disorders. Anti-psychotic drugs such as Seroquel, reserved for severe cases of bipolar, are rarely prescribed for children due to the high potential for side effects such as blood sugar problems and weight gain.
Article submitted by Deborah