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The Childhood Bipolar Disorder Answer Book: Practical Answers to the Top 300 Questions Parents Ask (Answer Book) Paperback – August 1, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks, Inc. (August 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402211775
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402211775
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #388,433 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Tracy Anglada is the founder and president of BPChildren and the mother of two children with bipolar disorder. She has authored several works on bipolar disorder in children.

Dr. Sheryl Hakala, who graduated from the University of South Florida, provides both psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy in private practice.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Excerpt from Chapter 1: Understanding Childhood Bipolar Disorder

Q. What is childhood bipolar disorder?
A. Childhood bipolar disorder is a chronic illness that affects the most complex organ of the body: the brain. The impact of bipolar disorder on the brain is thought to include abnormal structures, abnormal levels of neurotransmitters (the chemical messengers of the brain), abnormal cellular function, and abnormal metabolic function. Thoughts, memories, movements, moods, energy, behaviors, learning, and sensory processing are all based in the brain's amazing network of interconnected cells and neurons. It is not surprising, then, that when an illness impacts such a complex organ in multiple ways, it can have far-reaching consequences. Such is the case with bipolar disorder in children. There is little in their lives that is not touched by their illness.

Children with bipolar disorder are subject to extreme mood swings, ranging from the highs of mania to the depths of depression and despair. They suffer from extreme irritability, abrupt changes in energy levels, low tolerance for frustration, sudden changes in thinking, and odd or oppositional behaviors. Children with bipolar disorder also have some perceptual differences. Studies have shown that they incorrectly process facial expressions and may misinterpret social cues as a result. It is also common for executive functioning, sensory processing, attentional abilities, and cognitive functioning to be impaired. At the same time, these unique children may be gifted, articulate, engaging, artistic, poetic, and precocious for their age.

Bipolar disorder was once thought to be an "adult" illness, meaning that people thought it could not express itself in children. Studies are now showing that half of the patients who suffer from bipolar disorder had their onset before the age of eighteen. The misconception about its prevalence in childhood led to long delays in treatment that resulted in decades of suffering for those affected. The good news is that the illness is treatable. Identifying the symptoms early and providing treatment can give children who suffer from bipolar disorder a better quality of life.

Q. How does it differ from adult onset?
A. The onset of bipolar disorder can come at any age, but when it occurs during childhood, it presents some unusual difficulties that differ from its adult counterpart. Children are still growing and reaching developmental milestones. They are establishing their identity and discovering their place in the world. When bipolar disorder strikes during this time period, it interrupts this normal developmental process. They face difficulties unique to the pediatric population as they attend school and try to make social connections and to handle the already difficult transition to puberty. Their illness can turn all these steps into monumental tasks.

Children with bipolar disorder are generally more volatile in their mood swings than their adult-onset counterparts. Adults with bipolar disorder may spend weeks or months in one mood phase before switching to another; they also experience periods of wellness in between. However, children with bipolar disorder experience very few periods of wellness, and their moods swing rapidly between the extremes. The pediatric population is much more likely to experience chronic irritability than the "high" feelings of euphoria that accompany mania. Children spend more time in a "mixed" state, meaning that they are experiencing symptoms of both mania and depression at the same time. They are also more prone to experiencing a co-occurring condition, such as an anxiety disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder, learning disabilities, and so on.

Not unlike other illnesses that onset during youth, childhood bipolar disorder is considered more chronic and more ever-present than its adult counterpart. Some believe these differences constitute a completely different illness altogether. Hopefully, current ongoing research will clarify the degree of difference in the expression of the illness between adults and children.

Q. How is onset in late teens different?
A. No matter when the onset of bipolar disorder occurs, it can be devastating to the individual suffering the ill effects, but when the first symptoms of the disorder occur in late adolescence, they can differ somewhat from a younger childhood onset. The late-teen onset is more likely to mimic the adult onset characteristics of the disorder, including longer periods of time spent in one mood state before switching to another. The development of older teens may be less affected by the symptoms of the illness simply because they have already reached certain developmental milestones before the onset of symptoms.

At the same time, these teens may be overlooked and undiagnosed-the symptoms of their illness may be attributed to "teenage rebelliousness." If undiagnosed and untreated, this age group is at particular risk for abusing drugs, dropping out of school, and attempting suicide. Many parents may feel that these adolescents are simply struggling to get through the difficult teen years and may not even consider the possibility that the onset of an illness has occurred. Normal teenage events such as breaking up with a girlfriend, moving into a new apartment, starting a job, or going away to college may be blamed for an increase in mood symptoms. While these factors should not be dismissed, they also should not be used to excuse extreme behavior that may indicate bipolar disorder. Parents should know that these normal, stressful events can trigger an onset of the illness in those who are at risk for the development of the disorder. It should also be noted that drug use may unmask symptoms of the illness, while, conversely, symptoms of the illness may drive the teen to experiment with self-medication through drugs.

If you suspect your teenager may be suffering from bipolar disorder-even if you are not 100 percent sure-it is important to take him to a doctor for an evaluation. It could prevent your teen from getting into some serious trouble.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Lisa R. Steller on September 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
"As a licensed mental health therapist working with the chronically mentally ill for over 13 years, I have seen
first-hand the destruction and anguish caused by ignoring or putting off a diagnosis and/or treatment. People
end up suffering for years and often turn to drugs/alcohol to self-medicate, or even worse, some take their
own lives. That being said, I am also the parent of a 7 year old who has been recently diagnosed with Early
Onset Bipolar Disorder. Working in the field and having a detailed knowledge of the disease made the
diagnosis no less devastating. This book is an invaluable resource; the authors have provided the reader
with a wealth of important information in a format that is easy to read and understand. It is not only helpful for
recognizing symptoms, but also helps to identify possible solutions. I feel the knowledge gained by reading
this book has helped pave the way for me to learn about and accept my child's illness while simultaneously
providing hope for the future."

Lisa R. Steller MA, LPC
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Annette Seelig on August 11, 2008
Format: Paperback
"Hands down this book gets 5 stars! Having the opportunity to review this book prior to its release, the authors do a phenomenal job conveying to their readers everything there is to know about childhood bipolar disorder in an easy to read question/answer format. This layout allows the reader to navigate directly to areas of particular interest, with information invaluable to not only the newly diagnosed but the seasoned parent as well. This book is an essential resource for all!"
Annette Seelig
NAMI-Contra Costa,Ca
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Wendy A. York on September 6, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is phenominal. Many of the questions that I have had as a parent of a child with Bipolar Disorder are outlined and answered in an easy-to-read fashion. This will be a must-have for parents and therapists alike.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Debbie Stephens on September 1, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book, like all of the others written by Tracy Anglada is a must have for your bookshelf if your child is diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder or any mood disorder. She answers questions clearly and simply. The book is divided into categories to make looking up information you need easy to do without a lot of research. After reading this book, you will feeling very informed and confident to help your child receive the best of care.
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More About the Author

Tracy Anglada is an award-winning mental health writer and the founder and Executive Director of BPChildren. Anglada's books have been recommended as resources by Harvard Graduate School of Education, The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, The National Alliance on Mental Illness, The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, The Child & Adolescent Bipolar Foundation, The Juvenile Research Bipolar Foundation, BPMagazine, Scholastic Online, Canadian Mental Health Association, Children's Physician Network, Children's Mercy Hospital, The International Society for Bipolar Disorders, and many more.

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