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How To Cope With A Fierce Bipolar Adolescent
Social Anxiety Disorder
Although many children with bipolar disorder are impulsive and aggressive within the family these same children can often be intensely shy among peers and in unfamiliar situations. Their shyness grows out of the high anxiety that almost always accompanies bipolar disorder and is compounded by the intensity of their needs so intensely felt that they can make the child feel embarrassed and unable to join in. Perception of social situations and initiative can be seriously challenged. A child's shyness can also be intensified by interactions within the family. In the face of this a mother can become overprotective or ally too closely with her child fostering anxiety and a tendency to be passive. If the anxiety is severe it will inhibit the child's participation in sports and group activities. Shyness can hinder a child's ability to make friends limiting both her mastery of aggression during primary school years and her formation of deeper personal relationships later in adolescence.
When A Bipolar Child Separates From Parents
Any child with a persistent illness including bipolar disorder becomes more dependent on her parents at every step along the way. During infancy and childhood anxiety can make it hard for her to sleep alone. As she moves through school her academic and social difficulties will increase. A parent's presence is needed in activities that other children learn to manage on their own such as homework and traveling. An accentuated closeness between the child and the mother can also make it more difficult for the father to draw them out from intense dependency on Mom. You can make a young child take medication but you have no such power with an adolescent. Teenagers will demand concrete reasons for taking the medication and may refuse it for a number of reasons. Taking medication frustrates her normal developmental need to be perfect and independent. Adolescents are known for their sense of invulnerability so she may deny that there is anything wrong especially if she has not accepted her illness. Finally if the medication causes weight gain or if it interferes with appearance her protest will be particularly fierce and justifiably so. You should know about any medication your teen is taking and what are its side effects. It is vitally important that you get your teen in treatment with a psychiatrist who can work with her questions and resistance to medication. If her psychiatrist cannot do that you may need a new one. Unfortunately at times experiencing symptoms of the illness is the only effective confrontation of an adolescent's denial. It is not a recommended approach but it may be a necessary passage.
Hand Over The Situation To Your Partner
Be willing to hand over a situation to your partner if they can handle it more effectively. Pay attention to your child's anxieties. Some children with bipolar disorder still need your presence once in a while in going to sleep. Some clearly need your presence when doing homework. Keep an eye on any sleep disturbance. Do not let it go on for more than a few days without bringing it to her psychiatrist attention. Develop a relationship with your child's guidance counselor. Let him or her know about the challenges and your child's special needs. On the other hand your teen may be increasingly concerned about privacy in this regard. Speak with her psychiatrist to see if that privacy can be safely maintained by rescheduling doses.
Be ready for your teen to question her diagnosis or treatment. Questioning at this age is appropriate. Putting questions into words is a step in the right direction. Your teen’s questions may be part of a struggle to accept her illness at a new level. These issues are rarely open to rational discussion.
Helping Your Child With Academic School Work
Because the bipolar child can become intensely anxious any academic tasks that are not quickly mastered can make her back away from them. Failing to acquire basic skills will make future academic work even more difficult which will provoke greater anxiety and greater avoidance.
- If you see your child beginning to avoid specific subjects take action right away.
- Try accompanying your child while she is doing her homework and if basic skills are missing you can get her a tutor to help make up the ground.
- Be in close contact with her teachers so that you know when she is missing homework or faltering on tests. Be a guiding but not a harsh presence.
Excessive Use of Internet and Gambiling
Gambling and excessive use of the Internet are attempts to create or live in a world that competes with reality where the normal consequences of behavior are magically suspended. Virtual experiences allow the person a potential power wholly unrelated to his real accomplishments. Obviously like shopping these activities are enjoyed in moderation by healthy children and adults. When they are motivated by a deep sense of inadequacy and become a substitute for social contact or real development in the world they become a consumption disorder and are driven by the same developmental failures that drive the other consumption disorders. Psychiatrists are encountering children who spend excessive amounts of time playing video games or playing on the Internet is associated with problems entering the peer group. The behavior has a more ominous quality in an adolescent than in a younger child in part because it represents developmental failure occurring at a later age. Adolescents are also more capable of acting out the fantasies they pursue online or in a video game making them potentially more dangerous to themselves and others. A child with bipolar disorder is at significant risk for the developmental failures that drive these behaviors he may choose them as a way to compensate for feelings of loneliness.
The Bipolar Teen
Today bipolar disorder can be treated readily and effectively however the diagnosis of bipolar disorder is frightening and mysterious. It can be treated like any other manageable illnesses like asthma or epilepsy for instance. The good news is that the biological treatment of bipolar disorder advancing faster than any other area in psychiatry. New medications not only being developed but the underlying causes of bipolar disorder are also being identified. More precise observation of the brain's activity will help to make meaningful distinctions between one form of the disorder and another and explain some of the accompanying disorders such as dyslexia. These developments will also help you understand more precisely what medicines to use and when. It will also be necessary to understand the impact this disorder has on a child's development. The developmental problems with bipolar disorder sufferers are every bit as disabling as the biological ones. Wider understanding of these problems will help parents work more effectively preventing developmental failure as well as exacerbation of the illness.