Bipolar Disorder Community
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Avatar universal


My son is 5 years old and has been having problems with anger and aggression since he was about 2.5.  Anyone have a child with bipolar?  I am looking for someone to talk to.  We have been going to a psychologist for about a year and finally after getting some of an "episode" on video we are being taken seriously.  We have been referred to a psychiatrist but cant get in until Dec so we are left to do some of our own research.  The psychologist has given us a direction but I think bipolar is more the dirrection we need to be looking.
4 Responses
Avatar universal
I'm not sure if bipolar disorder can be diagnosed that early, but I could be wrong. My son had MAJOR tantrums like what you're describing and since I gave bp disorder, I thought he may too, or maybe even a form of autism. I couldn't find a psychiatrist in a 200 mike radius that would see a child under 6, and he was 3 at the time, so I began my own research as well. I came across OCD, and his symptoms matched perfectly, so I started taking those things into consideration, and his tantrums have leveled to normal ones. I just think my son needed more understanding and support for what was really important to him. I hope I've helped some. At least you shouldn't feel alone.
520191 tn?1355639002
Hi Hopeforalex

I am in 2 minds about children being diagnosed with bipolar, as bipolar disorder is a life long illness and that is a lot to put on a child shoulders. and the bipolar medication is not designed or tested on children, and many say it is unsafe with bad side effects.The symptoms of child bipolar are much different to adult bipolar. Child bipolar consists of a child having anger issues and chronic tantrums, for adults to be considered bipolar/manic they must have 3 or more of the following symptoms lasting for longer than one week.

Criteria for Manic Episode (DSM-IV, p. 332)
A. A distinct period of abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood, lasting at least 1 week (or any duration if hospitalization is necessary).
B. During the period of mood disturbance, three (or more) of the following symptoms have persisted (four if the mood is only irritable) and have been present to a significant degree:

    -inflated self-esteem or grandiosity
    -decreased need for sleep (e.g., feels rested after only 3 hours of sleep)
    -more talkative than usual or pressure to keep talking
    -flight of ideas or subjective experience that thoughts are racing
   - distractibility (i.e., attention too easily drawn to unimportant or irrelevant external stimuli)
    -increase in goal-directed activity (either socially, at work or school, or sexually) or psychomotor agitation
    -excessive involvement in pleasurable activities that have a high potential for painful consequences (e.g., engaging in unrestrained buying sprees, sexual indiscretions, or foolish business investments)

and then a 5 or more of symptoms of depression.

A. Five (or more) of the following symptoms have been present during the same 2-week period and represent a change from previous functioning; at least one of the symptoms is either (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure.
Note: Do not include symptoms that are clearly due to a general medical condition, or mood-incongruent delusions or hallucinations.

   - depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either subjective report (e.g., feels sad or empty) or observation made by others (e.g. appears tearful). Note: In children and adolescents, can be irritable mood.

    -markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day (as indicated by either subjective account or observation made by others)
    -significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (e.g., a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month), or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day. Note: In children, consider failure to make expected weight gains.
    -insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day
    -psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down)
    -fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
    -feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt (which may be delusional) nearly every day (not merely self-reproach or guilt about being sick)
    -diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day (either by subjective account or as observed by others)
    -recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide

B. The symptoms do not meet criteria for a Mixed Episode.
C. The symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
D. The symptoms are not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition (e.g., hypothyroidism).
E. The symptoms are not better accounted for by bereavement, i.e., after the loss of a loved one, the symptoms persist for longer than 2 months or are characterized by marked functional impairment, morbid preoccupation with worthlessness, suicidal ideation, psychotic symptoms, or psychomotor retardation.

I found the above information here: http://www.fortunecity.com/campus/psychology/781/dsm.htm

This is what i found for symptoms of child bipolar: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bipolar_disorder#In_children

I have read a few reports made by doctors about how diagnosing bipolar in children, as being a big mistake and saying they are being miss-diagnosed and should be diagnosed with things such as server ADHD or ODD. ( not to say that some children do have actually bipolar). He said that when they are put on a stimulant they normally  get better but because being diagnosed with bipolar a doctor would be reluctant to do that as that will make bipolar worse. If you want to read more here is a link: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/745087

I guess it is very controversial topic so i think you should do some research and make up your on mind of what is happening with your son. with all this information please do not think that it is not tough for you and your family with your sons behaviors and i wish you luck with finding the answers.
Avatar universal
Yes it is extremely hard to diagnose in children, I think a lot of people would recognise their first instances of BP around puberty, this might not be the case for everyone but I was 11 and it wasn't diagnosed until my twenties.
Children's behaviour can change so much through the years, 6 months can make so much difference..
My boyfriends son has ADHD but he was also diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder, he is 12 now but from 4-10yrs he was uncontrolable, he was always in trouble, he seemed to go out of his way to wind people up or get in a fight, luckily he has meds now which help, but we have had sessions with a child psychotherapist so that we could learn different ways of parenting him, it is a completely different story compared to our other kids!
I feel for you, getting help for children is a battle, we have had to fight for every bit of help we could get, we have to get as much evidence from school and other people involved just to prove the help he needs, it's wrong!
A lot of kids with problems like these tend to have learning difficulties aswell, my stepson is a very slow learner, he is about 3 years behind in school, this can be a result of the behaviour, or it can cause bad behaviour.
It's really tough, it is the ripple effect that it has on the whole family, especially if you have other children, I think it is terrible that you have to wait until December, but I'm not surprised, we have encountered similar problems.
Good Luck!
Avatar universal
First, before talking about your child possibly having bipolar disorder, you first need to look at family history and see if bipolar is something that runs in the family- or any other forms of mental illness. If bipolar does not run in the family- it could be something else entirely.
I work at a childrens psychiatric inpatient hospital in TX as a mental health counselor, and I work with kids ranging from 3-17 years old, but mainly 3-12 yr olds. Surprisingly we get alot of 5 year olds at my hospital, typically for aggression issues. Drs prefer to put off the dx (diagnosis) of bipolar until children reach at least 12 years old. Most drs, if making any form of severe mental illness will put 'NOS' after it so the dx would read: bipolar d/o nos- which is bipolar disorder not otherwise specified. They do this because it is not an official bp dx. Which means it isnt set in stone, and it wont follow the child around from dr to dr as it leaves room for other possible dx's.
Now, first I think the best thing u did was get an 'outburst' on video. That seems to prove the most effective in 'proving' to drs how severe a problem is. Also, make sure you let the drs know how often these outbursts occur, how long they last each time, and try to figure out a cause. Figuring out a cause may prove difficult as sometimes these tantrums can seem 'out of the blue' but write down what happens an hour before each tantrum and see if you notice a pattern. Alot of bp children have trouble with transitions as minor as from dinner to bath, or more major transitions such as clean up time to bed time-(yes, major for children). BP children are in great need of consistency and a very firm schedule and routine. Sleep schedule is the most important, so if he is having trouble sleeping- that should be priority. For bp children to flourish it is very important that you have a very strict, very CONSISTENT schedule from the time he wakes up to the time he goes to bed. I know its hard but trust me it will make your life so much easier. anyways that is some advice- if you have anymore questions ask away :) good luck
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