Bipolar Disorder Community
5.01k Members
603015 tn?1329862973

Is it possible that my 8 year old could have bipolar

Hi My 8 year old girl has always been a difficult child since birth, until she was three we were told she had milk and soya intolerance, she used to cry for hours and clench her tummy, her mood seem to run in cycles, good one week, terrible the next, eventually at three when her tantrums were hours long and she constantly complained of tummy ache neck ache shoulder ache and she got very upset and scared all the time she was diagnosed with sensory issues with an GAD anxiety disorder, yes she suffers from anxiety but only when she is going through a bad period, now 8 and still we have periods of very low mood she complains of symptomatic complaints, withdraws from friends, doesnt want to go to school ect.. then she can cope better and starts doing normal kid stuff but is still very contrary, one minute happy next having a 1-3 hour meltdown, she is irritable, tired and very aggressive to her siblings. During her really bad times since she was five she has expressed that she wants to die and says she wants to kill herself, She is being assessed again and they have said its not typical behaviour for anxiety, she is having an eeg. She is an A student and she has very little problems at school ect.. sadness and not wanting to join in but thats all. we have been reassured that they are going to investigate everything this time as like us they feel it has gone on too long. We have three other children who do not suffer like her. As parents we find it hard to understand and manage her whilst ensuring the other children dont become overwhelmed by the situation, we have been told that they will also do some work with the younger sibling as she is most effected, they have put it to a board and have said they have further assesments to do. I think she is baffling them also, when they do an assesment they expect her to respond in a certain way and she doesnt do what they expect so they arnt saying much at this point and I feel helpless. I feel that she has waited long enough to grow out of it and I am concerned what impact this will have on her long term. She is a very lovable child with an outstanding forward thinking intelligence, I think sometimes this is some of the problem, she doesnt have the emotional maturity to cope with her thoughts, she describes her worries as heaps of moving bugs in her head and she knows what some of them are but not all of them, she also has hullucinations when she is really overwhelmed but we are unsure if these are a coping/justifying method for behaviour or she really does think she sees scarey people. Does anyone have any possible theories as I have looked at all childhood disorders and no one fits. Thank you
32 Responses
Avatar universal
All I can contribute is that I was very much like the child you are describing here.  I cycled through depression and elation.  I was very sensitive.  And I did extremely well in school.  I started having hallucinations as early as I can remember - only recently looking back and seeing them as hallucinations.  I attempted suicide for the first time when I was seven years old.  I have a pretty severe case of Bipolar I Disorder.  I wasn't officially diagnosed until I was 21, and it's taken about 6 years to finally get me on the right meds and the right doses.  

I'm really glad that you are being so proactive in the treatment of your daughter.  My young single mother always thought I was just extra sensitive with an over active imagination.  Please continue to work at getting your daughter the help she needs.  Doctors are very reluctant, in my experience to actually diagnose such a young child, and that's okay...but she may need meds to overcome her obstacles, even with out a diagnosis.  I wish your family the very best of luck.
603015 tn?1329862973
Thank you so much for your email, Everyone says she is different but no one knows whats going on. I know at the moment that she is heading down hill again, she is becoming very needy, she talks about school and its hard to imagine all that she says actually happens to her, for eg last night she was agitated whilst having her bath, she burst into tears and said she that shes fat, she is definatley not fat she hardly eats enough to feed a sparrow, I asked her why she thought she was fat, she said that boys at school said yesterday she was fat, a girl told her she was ugly, someone pushed her over when she ran the cross country and no one is her friend, as she starts the down hill slope she starts to real off heaps of stuff that she says happens at school, her school think she is a perfect student and they just dont see it, they say they would like 20 of her in the class, she never gets into trouble, shes quiet and always tries to please. The only problem they have at school is she tells them that she is sick and cant do sports ect.. and when she is really bad they have to pull her off me so that I can leave. As a mother I cant bear to see her suffer like this, at home she is very short tempered and is very mean to her sisters, her younger sister is scared of her and now tends to let her get her own way so she doesnt get sad or mad. She is such a lovely girl when she is fine, but something happens and then shes a raging bull. During her melt downs she hits her self, bangs her head on the wall, says she hates herself and wants to kill herself, she has threatened her sister with scissors, she throws things, takes pictures off walls and drops them on the floor. Up until last year she was mainly irratable most of the time with depressive episodes, she hardly ever got excited, she hated xmas, at three we had to tell her it wasnt real because she didnt want any presents because it ment someone had to come into the house, on xmas morning she went crazy shouting at us becasue she told us she didnt want any presents, she hates birthdays including her own, she will do anything to ruin the day for herself or someone else, her last party she was really depressed, she tried really hard to join in but she couldnt, half way through she just wanted everyone to leave. This last year she has high moments, she gets really loud, happy and very excitable, this is new for her she has always been so somber except when angry, at first we thought this was a new way of coping with anxiety but whilst she is like this she has fake laughter and fake smiles, she says stuff like im clever arnt i, im beautiful arnt I, im the best at this, im better than you. Then she gets real ratty and suddenly she hates her self, shes stupid. She constanly asks if im proud of her, will I love her no matter what, I just dont understand. I asked her docs weather she could be bipolar and they say its very controvertial. They have asked for a period of non diagnosis, they have been to the school, they are coming out to the house and we have been asked to record on video what we can. Sorry for going on a bit but its good just to get it out there, I know I have to ensure she gets help, I just dont know what else to do. Tanks again...
539694 tn?1434565947
If your little girl is displaying that kind of behaviour and conveying those kinds of emotions particuarly regarding wanting to die something very serious is wrong and its good you have contacted your doctors.

It is more common for unipolar depression to occur at the age your daughter is as bipolar can appear in children very young but 8 years old is quite rare indeed. I really recommend you try to see a specialist if your daughter begins to get progressively worse. Many bipolar individuals suffer from psychotic symptoms and this is especially true of the ones that begin to manifest the bipolar itself at a very early age like 8. I dont wish to scare you with this information the word psychotic carries very negative connotations unfortunately.

The hallucinations you described and how your daughter described thoughts like bugs in her head could be early signs of something more as i have said. I have has similar experiences myself and know it is deeply unpleasant.

I would strongly suggest seeking a specialist as well as enquiring along the medication route also. Medicating a 8 year old child i personally think is too much but enquiring cannot hurt.
603015 tn?1329862973
thank you for your response. She is with mental health docs, they have said they dont want to go the medication route at this stage, in the past we have been offerred it and said that as long as we are coping then we would like to avoid this, however after her last depression it came to me that its not us copyng that matters its actually her coping that is of concern so I was open to medication this time but as I have said this time they have said they dont think its appropriate at this point. They dont recognise bipolar in children and have said this is not the problem, they said it was anxiety causing sadness, now they have said its not typical of anxiety and agree that anxiety is just a symptom and are doing assesments and that we may not get a diagnosis. They have agreed that it is biological and not enviromental but have said little else.
So I feel that I have to investigate on her behalf and find out as much as I can, I think whats stumps most is that she is so controlled at school, she doesnt have her outburst here she only shows her anxiety, as I have said I have had at least 3 teachers tell me that they would love more student like her. I find this hard as she only shows this side to very few, I have always said you have to live with her to understand and I stand by that.
I guess getting it on video if we can will give them a better understanding but I feel like im betraying her by doing this, she will not know we are recording, how would have you felt if your parents had done this ? thanks again for taking the time to respond I really appreciate it.
539694 tn?1434565947
I would certainly agree its mostly biological in nature your trying to get your daughter help which makes it obvious your your a good parent and if shes doing well at school as well i dont think any enviromental stressors will be present in enough magnitude to cause it. Doctors are the most clever people on earth but unfortunately they are also complete imbeciles at times bipolar CAN be found in children your daughters age its just harder to detect it at that age as it can be dismissed as childish tantrums or can be looked at with sometimes autistic perspectives.

Bipolar in children that young is rare but it is present so dont let the doctors dismiss it. If youve already done any research on medications i apologise but i feel i must point out to you that a lot of medications for bipolar especially when combined can have some quite nasty side effects. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors may be the more modern route used but at your daughters age it may not be so good for her body.
603015 tn?1329862973
Thanks for that, I havent looked into any meds in detail and at this stage until they suggest we take them I guess we would have to look into the suggestions at that point as there seems to be so many options. I really feel uncomfortable with this but if we go back to the last depression I guess I would have done anything to lift her out of that, it was very long 6-8 weeks and for an 8 year old thats a long time to be withdrawn and sad, my 17 year old couldnt bear to see her like that he found it extremely hard. I am blessed that all my children show empathy and are caring.

She is trying really hard at the moment to keep stable, she is telling herself and has learnt to reassure herself that she doesnt have to worry so I guess some of the cognative therapy has worked, we are also have our regular chats when she can off load her worries and feelings, we have not had an explosion for around 4 weeks now, the last one we had was the worst we have ever had, it went on for 3 hours and was the most scary. I tried to talk to her about it a few days later but she says she cant remember it, she said she could remember the lead up to it but then cant remember anything else, Im not sure whether she is choosing to not remember or really doesnt remember, at this age its really hard to tell as no one wants to remember these really bad experiences I suppose.
539694 tn?1434565947
I would suspect she genuinely doesnt remember it. When shes going wild and manic who perception of everything is tinted and may be angry, paranoid or hostile. Some people do tend to blank out bad episodes. You feel like your losing your grip like your back high on drugs when it gets really bad, sometimes it can be severely distressing having a mixed episode.
603015 tn?1329862973
The more I talk with you the more I am thinking perhaps she really does have the early signs of bipolar, I cant put her behaviours down to anything else and to date neither can her specialist but in the county I am they do not recognise bipolar or even unipolar for that matter in children they call it "sad" at her age. I wish someone could just tell me, how am I going to manage it until we get a diagnosis, I am worried that she may cross that line before they do something, Im scared for her and her siblings. I am waiting in anticipation for the next melt down, they have been getting further apart but worse in severity its like walking on egg shells constantly. When you look at her symptoms / behaviours she has every symptom of the depressive stage with the exception of dropping school grades, when you look at mania Im not sure how this really manifests its self, everything I read about childhood bipolar shows bad behaviour in school, and adhd is prominant, she definatley is not adhd. She is too scared to hurt herself (unless in a rage) or jump out of a car although she has said this in anger once when we were driving to school but that was years ago when she was much younger, she doesnt show that she thinks she a super hero and can fly, Im confused. I just want to know, why cant they just do test, why does she have something you cant test for.
Avatar universal
I have read all that you and the others have written.  Your daughter sounds a lot like my son, he is 12 with the exception that he doesn't excatly get depressed but he does shut himself in his room and not socialize.  He also shows none of the behaviour at school and they all think he is wonderful, and I think I wish they could see him at home!

His episodes of violent rage have reduced as he gets older but they are worse when they do happen.  He gets verbally aggressive with us all, says we are all against him and that he wishes he wasn't here.  I have found knives hidden in his room but when I ask him about it he pretends to look surprised.

I have tried speaking to our doctor but they just aren't interested, because he is doing well at school and because the violent outbursts are relatively infrequent they don't consider it a problem.

I am bipolar and I truly believe that he is also bipolar and has been since the age of about 2 which is when this all started.

I hope that your daughters outbursts also become less frequent, but yes I can understand completely your worry with regard to the depression.

I'm sorry I haven't given you any answers but I just wanted you to know that you are not alone.

All the best.
603015 tn?1329862973
Thank you so much for responding. Its so good to know I am not alone, the docs are taking her seriously as they picked her case up during the last depression so they could see, I think they have spoken to her about her suicidal thoughts and I guess she must have opened up to them about them but they are just assessing and its taking so long, I feel sometimes they dont really beleive me but im sure this is not true. They have asked for video of her behaviours, I have managed to catch one of our chats on camera but I am waiting for the opportunity to get a rage although because this is so crazy and I need to keep hersafe Im not sure how I am actually going to get it on camera but I am trying hard to try and anticipate but have missed a few opportunities, its been a month or so since her last so I know its coming. You could also try and get something on camera, I am happy for them to tell me what I am doing wrong if anything but after all this time we have tried everything and when its going to happen its going to happen, I have learnt that you can not make one happen and thats why I am sure something happens internally that makes her snap and she looses all control, I think no one can know how this feels unless you live it. thanks again I wish you the best with your child, remember its not your fault or his and keep going, I will not let any doc tell me my daughter doesnt need help, im lucky this hasnt happened yet but if it did I am ready...

Avatar universal
Yes we do have to stay strong, I admit that at times I end up in floods of tears with sheer frustration but after one of his "goes" he snaps straight into nice kid as if nothing has happened.  He hasn't had a major go for a while, must be at least 4 months, if he does have another violent rage then I shall be taking him back to the doctor.  None of my other children are like him, I have 4.  So I know it can't be my parenting!  What I do want though is help and support with how to deal with him.  The mood swings are daily but as I say the violent swings are getting more infrequent.

It took till I was 24 before I got my first official diagnosis of bp and I then dropped out of the mental health system, it was another 14 years before I got to a point where I couldn't cope and got put on medication.  I won't let him suffer for as long as I did.

All the best, if you ever want to pm me on here please feel free.
Avatar universal
I had depression and anxiety in childhood and I grew out of it.  She is very young.

Have you researched 'gifted and talented kids'  this is pretty typical behaviour of such a child.  She is probably a highly sensitive child whos emotional maturity is behind the thinking as you said.  But chances are it will catch up and things will even out.

My son (diagnosed ADHD/high inteligence) we used behaviour management not drugs.  He was soooo difficult as a child, he is not the easiest teenager (aged 17) and all the other kids, whose mothers used to hide when they saw my son coming, are kicking up goodtime.  Whereas he just mellowed out.
603015 tn?1329862973

Thank you, I hope you are right. Although my instinct is telling me different. My son was a full on boy who also was at times an emotionally volitile child now 17 he has also mellowed, my 14 year old girl is a perfectionist and is in the gifted class also has some anxiety and my youngest is a free spririt and nothing much gets her down, all my kids are differrent but with my 8 year old she is one of a kind and her behaviour is very very different from anything I have ever encounterred with my other children or friends children, we have been working on behaviour modification and anxiety control for 4 years and it has made little difference, something I have noticed is that with her you can not make a meltdown happen, even if you push all the right buttons this is why they beleive it is not behaviour problems as such, something happens internally and she changes then thick and fast she becomes depressed, anxious and very distressed. She was having cognitive behaviour therapy just recently, they first thought she had some hidden underlying reason for her behaviours, they dont think this is the case now as her behaviour is so inconsistant. What they have said is that with anxiety it is usually consistant even with generalised anxiety its not something the comes and goes like it does with her, the only thing that is consistant with her is her inconsistancy and this rapid change is confusing them. I hope its just something that can be fixed with therapy and time but as time is going on we can see it developing and feel helpless at this stage to stop it. Thank you for the hope
581210 tn?1220834780
Have you considered she might have some degree of autism?  The allergies remind me of my good friend's son who is autistic and has many food allergies.  He seemed fine until vaccination at age 2 (which contained egg albumen--he's allergic.)

Plus, there are several autistic kids in our area schools who behave similarly to what you described.

She could have more than one thing going on.  I know people with autism, bipolar, and seizures all together.
603015 tn?1329862973
Thanks for responding

Yes we have been told many years ago around 4years old when she was diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder that she has some Autistic tendancies, some OCD tendancies, they explained mental disorders as a big umbrella and that she may display some behaviours seen in some disorders but that doesnt mean she has them, she saw an occupational therapist at this time to be evaluated for Sensory Intergrated Dysfunction, this is also common with Autistic children and they concluded although she has some sensory issues they should be treated as tendancies only and that Autism or SID was not the issue and GAD anxiety fitted better, obviously now they have changed and dont think GAD is correct and think the sensory issues and anxiety are mear symptoms of something else, but what they are not saying. They are doing an EEG to discount epilepsy all though I think this is a long shot as I am sure the amount of times she has seen specialists that someone would have picked up on that by now. We are just sitting and waiting for them to exhaust all avenues and then hopefully come up with a conclusion, all I know is that they seem a little concerned and the pressure has definatley gone up, they want to come to the house but the phsycologist wants the phsyciatrist to come also, Im not sure what they think they are going to find but I guess they just want to check us out at home and see her enviroment is not a factor. The phsyciatrist has said he has several things he thinks it could be, he wants to discount and doesnt think its fair to discuss them with us until he has done all the assesments, they also put it to a board of specialists and all we were told after that is they have a few more assesments to do, as I have said before she then responds in a different way to the way they expect and I think they are a little stumped. I have to have hope that they will find the reason as she can not carry on like this, it cant be good for anyone to have these rapid changing emotions and abilities let alone a little girl, honestly I would say over half her time is full of negative feelings in some form and as a parent I just hate seeing her like it.  
581210 tn?1220834780
Hopefully you will be able to narrow things down a bit.  Seizure meds are often used for bipolar disorder, so if she has a combination of things, maybe you will get lucky not to need a million different medications.

I'm just throwing this out there, but you don't think she might have chemical sensitivities, do you?  Cleaning products, etc.?

Bipolar in children is often violent and aggressive, not as easy to diagnose as in adults, not that it's always easy--often it's misdiagnosed in general.  Every bipolar child I've known has been quite different from the other children with it and the typical adult with it.  That being said, some people want to make bipolar disorder an umbrella diagnosis, so keep educating yourself--you know your child better than anyone else.  

I'm sorry this is painful for you.  I know what it is like as a mom with a little one who can't tell you what the problem is when ill.  Also, I look at my kids now as they get older for signs of bipolar.  If I'd known I was prone to bipolar, I would never have had biological children for fear of increasing the chance of my children developing it.

Best of luck.
603015 tn?1329862973
Thanks for that, throw anything out there I will look at anything to find an answer..

Your BP must be quite disabling for you to say that if you had known, when I found out I was pregnant with my forth child I decided I would have all the test because I was finding my now 8 yr old so hard and I could not imagine how I would cope if anything was wrong with the next one so I can sort of understand, obviously now even though they have been the hardest years of my life I wouldnt change anything and what ever they say is the problem I am sort of prepared I just find it really hard when she is so depressed and sad and says stuff like ' why am I so different from everyone else, I wish I wasnt me, I want to die, will you always love me, why do you love me' , thats the pain I would really like to take away from her
Avatar universal
I know it is hard, but it sounds she is with the right family and you are trying a lot to help her.

The book

"transforming the difficult child, the nurtured heart approach"  By Howard Glasser

Google it - there is a website. I've forgotten the details, things have got so good.

It helped to turn things around for us.
603015 tn?1329862973
Thank you I will, I also found the "explosive child" to be a great book and it turned my thinking completley around, it covers all kids with OCD to ADHD ect..
It makes you understand they are not doing it on purpose, once I accepted that, things got heaps better.
Avatar universal
I am reading your story and feel like I am reading about my son. He is going to be turning 9 next week. He has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. When he was two I started noticing things about him that just didn't seem right but everyone kept saying that it was the terrible two's. He would bang his head on the floor, window, hit himself, bite himself, attack me, and his brother when he was born. He would be fine one minute and then explode for what seemed like forever. He was kicked out of preschool and I have had him in many different programs. Unfortunetly he also had to deal with me being in and out of the hospital because i also have Adhesion Related Disorder so my organs constantly get stuck together. I have just had my 11th surgery in June.
My husband and I (now ex husband) finally agreed to put him on medication. That was a process in finding the right one. It took me having to admit him to the hospital because at the time he was going after me and my younger son. He would talk alot about wanting to die and would even try and lay down in parking lots. He put his hand through glass windows and toward the end I would have to lock myself in the bathroom so he would not attack me and my younger son.
He is now on abilify and I have to say he is doing very well. I do have some issues with him but he is sooooooooooo much better.
I myself have just been diagnosed with Bipolar II about 2 months ago and am trying to deal with that as well. It has been a struggle but I am not giving up.
603015 tn?1329862973
Thank you for this, I am so worried she has wet herself 7 times in the last week and she says she cant feel it, she is on a high at the moment and I find this the most dificult to manage. She is so unpredictable, she has only really hurt herself, she threatens to hurt others but doesnt, this morning she said she wanted to break the tv all because she was too agitated to get up and get the remote so throwing the remote hard on the floor was her answer, 10mins later she wet herself whilst laughing exessively.

I just want to know so that we can start a plan of action to make things better for everyone.
Avatar universal
My son has done that many times wet himself. The doctor says that it is that he is so upset and anxious that he doesn't notice doing it. He now actually has a problem with having bowel movements in his pants.

The only thing that I can suggest when she does that is to make her have a time out which usually never really worked for me. I learned that basically when she throws the remote don't scream at her just tell her we don't throw things in this house and then when she has calmed down make her pick it up. Most likely the wetting herself is her way of trying to get attention, she probably does not like the way she feels inside herself. I am not sure if you have read this or not but the book "The Bipolar Child" is a great book to read.
If I can help in any way feel free to contact me. I do know what you are going through and it is very difficult. Before my son was in the hospital I had delt with the situations so long and no one really believing me that it was that bad (the school, his friends, my husband) that I ended up haveing a break down. my email address is ***@****.
603015 tn?1329862973
I have just been to the docs and we have given them some videos of some of the behaviours, they dont think the wetting is anxiety so they have decided to check her for diabetes, this was a massive traumer because I had to take her for a blood test, she was terrible, she ran out of the docs twice and then when we had to go to get the blood test done she ran out of the building and kept running across driveways, she was fast approaching a road and I couldnt catch her so I screamed at her and this stopped her in her tracks, she then realised she was by the road it was so scary, they had to hold her down to get the blood out is was really stressfull for both of us. I guess if we have to go through this to get her the help she needs then we will just have to but in the mean time Im scared she is going to hurt herself. She got really upset last night and thinks that she is never going to get rid of her worries in her head, she has started to say she doesnt want to go to places again and that she sometimes feels like she wants to die, the other day she was frustrated and said she wanted to strangle herself, so I know the depression is coming again, we had a long chat and she has said she will go to her friends on saturday but I think she will probably bail.  
607502 tn?1288247540
Funnily enough my pdoc and I were discussing this the other day - it used to be almost impossible to find a child under 14 or so who was manifesting BP symptoms but she is now seeing children as young as 8 and 9 who need medication and treatment.

She commented that this is not as rare a it was and alarmingly they are also seeing children as young as 8 or 9 who are going thru puberty and starting to menstruate - as puberty is often the trigger for Bipolar in paediatric cases.

It sounds like something is wrong here, yes BP runs in families - my mother was BP and my 2 brothers both display symptoms, my younger brother is almost exactly like me in his behaviours and moods.

I was an ADHD child with major behavioural issues and spent my childhood in therapy, a lot of this now can be put down to BP but in those days childhood BP (or manic depression as it was known) was considered non existant or very very rare and most child psychs did not consider it - I must have had every diagnosis in the world from autism to aspergers to hyperactivity and finaly ADHD - Ritalin did work for me in a lot of ways and a lot of the behaviour stabilised in the end with good therapists.

BP in children this young can and does happen and many of the things people are describing here are things I did and I am sure if we all think back we can see similar behaviours in all of our shildhoods - the way BP manifests in childhood is still being studied, the hard thing of course as we all know is that even adults dont react well to all therapies the same way - what works for one person does not always work for the other do its obviously harder in kids.
Have an Answer?
Top Mood Disorders Answerers
Avatar universal
Arlington, VA
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
15 signs that it’s more than just the blues
Discover the common symptoms of and treatment options for depression.
We've got five strategies to foster happiness in your everyday life.
Don’t let the winter chill send your smile into deep hibernation. Try these 10 mood-boosting tips to get your happy back
A list of national and international resources and hotlines to help connect you to needed health and medical services.
Here’s how your baby’s growing in your body each week.