They child may actually be diagnosed as having behavioral disorder, as a friend of mine did as a teenager, but there were no known medications to help treat it.
Today, although diagnosis continues to be an area of frustration both for the parent and the psychiatrist, the knowledge that children can have bipolar disorder has made diagnosis more acceptable, recognition of the disease more likely, and treatment more successful. With the advancements in modern medicine and the study of psychology and psychiatry over the last decade as well as with the lifestyle choices available, life for bipolar children can be much different than that of their counterparts in the past.
It is very important that bipolar disorder be treated. Left untreated, it can be a complete disaster for the child and those around him or her. Mania is especially dangerous, as a person experiencing the manic portion of bipolar disorder is quite literally a "maniac" (you can see how 'maniac' stems from the word 'mania') and there is no limit to what that person will do in that state. He or she may drive drunken, patrol around dangerous neighborhoods in the middle of the night, spend all of his or her money, steal, lie, and perform stunts that no one in his or her right mind would do. He or she is also more likely do fall into a life of drugs.
One of the most difficult aspects of bipolar disorder in children is the correct diagnosis of the disease. Besides the obvious, "what is a normal question" in children, the disease is often coupled with other behavior or emotional problems that make the cause of the symptoms difficult to isolate. Also, because children are still developing their personality, testing boundaries, establishing behavior patterns, as well as learning communication abilities, recognizing the disease is very difficult in young children. The symptoms described previously vary between individuals and even within the same individual. Symptoms that are apparent at one time are replaced with another manifestation. Many of the symptoms mock depression or paranoid schizophrenia as well, and so they can be misdiagnosed in that fashion.
Figure 1: The Different Sides of Bipolar Disorder
Source: Cecille the Storyteller, 2009
The Purpose Statement
A person that is misdiagnosed with Bipolar Disorder disease is frequently confused with ADHD and stimulants, along with the aforementioned afflictions, which in turn can make Bipolar Disorder worse because the child is not receiving the proper treatment and Bipolar Disorder can be very dangerous untreated. In addition, Bipolar Disorder in children is misdiagnosed due to the child taking the wrong medications, usually for depression. As can be seen in the following diagram, one can easily see how a misinformed doctor could diagnose Bipolar Disorder as depression or another related illness:
Figure 1: People with Bipolar Disorder Are Depressed for Almost 1/3 of Their Lives
Source: CNS Spectrums, 2009, pg. 1
Statement of the