Bipolar Disorder Community
4.99k Members
Avatar universal

Is this bipolar?

My husband and I adopted three children about a year ago. We have noticed that our 3 year old son is very moody. He will be just great one minute and then he will just go nuts. He will get a wild animal look in his eyes and then run up and just start hitting me or my husband or the wall just whatever is close. He doesn't mind very well and a lot of the time it seems as though he just completely tunes us out when we talk to him. He doesn't sleep well at all. He might cry for hours after being put to bed and then he often wakes up at night just crying. He eats so much and he eats a lot of bread and drinks a lot of water or anything he can have. He has been diagnosed as ADHD and we have refused to medicate him yet. However it is very difficult for him to sit still. He has moments that he plays very well but he is always so loud. He also loves to pretend that everything is a gun and he will run around saying "kill, kill". We don't have guns and we don't allow him to watch violent things on tv so I have no idea where he gets it. On days that we feel we do nothing but get on to him we will ask him why he is acting the way he does and he will sometimes say I just want to be bad.  At three should he be saying that?  Please help I am at my wits end and have no idea what to do with him. He is a very sweet boy. He loves to be held and cuddled. He also loves to give kisses and to be loved on but then a switch flips in him and he is a totally different kid.  What should I do?
16 Responses
539694 tn?1434569547
If there is indeed something seriously wrong here diagnosing it at the age of 3 is going to be very difficult. How long ago was he diagnosed as ADHD?
Avatar universal
He was diagnosed with ADHD about 4-5 months ago.
Avatar universal

Iam not suggesting he witnessed it in your home, but before, is it possible he witnessed violence?
Avatar universal
Does he go to day care? Who diagnosed him ADHD?

I would suggest finding a Children's Rehabilitation Clinic or even a Child Neurologist or a Child Psychologist/Psychiatrist in your area. It may sound strange but they have better resources than your typical pediatrician. They are use to working with children who have "difficulties". Not labeling your son anything but at 3 it could be any number of things. Anger and attachment issues, Autism, Aspergers Syndrome, it could be ADHD but honestly that is a blanket diagnosis for children with behavior issues. It would be best to get in with someone who has alot of experience with Child Hood Psych if you are really concerned. ADHD mimics alot of the Bipolar issues in children but truly diagnosing a 3 year even with ADHD is not fair to the child.

My daughter who is 15 had sleep disturbances as early as 9 or 10 months old but did not show signs of actual bipolar til she was 8ish. Wasn't actively cycling until she was 12 or 13. She never acted ADHD, she has bad attention issues now that she didn't have before but she still doesn't act ADD or ADHD.

Don't know if that helps any.

607502 tn?1288251140
Bipolar and ADHD at 3 is very very very very rare and I would be very hesitant to accept a diagnosis at that age of either of those.

There is a massive tendency to diagnose any child who is hyperactive or moody as ADHD - the reality is most kids at 3 are those things.  The symptoms you have just given are not neccesarrily illness based - you ssid you adopted him.  What is his history?  Is he the oldest or youngest or middle?  If he is suffering anxiety issues and seperation (and he is not able to articulate at this age) that could easily account for the moods and the sleep problems.

This is the problem with modern doctors - they see every thing as a symptom in their rush to fall over the line with a diagnosis so they can prescribe something.  These behaviours are not abnormal in a child this age no matter what your doctor says.  You should not be medicating your child, I agree completely and in fact suggest that Anyjo101 is right - go and see a Child Pysch of Paediatrician.

All boys play guns, its a simple fact of life and not something to be alarmed about, just as all girls tend to go through a doll phase.

And as for bipolar I have not seen one verified case of Bipolar in a child that young, the youngest I have seen is 8 in the literature I have read and as the diagnostic criteria are subjective and behaviours based mis diagnosis is not hard to get - I have seen people who say their 5 year old is BP and there''s always a doctor who will back them up but in a world where doctors prescribing habits are so often based on who just bought them dinner or gave them a new clock we should always be mindful of it.  

Children can and do develop mental illnesses but in a world where Ritalin is so over prescribed its now become a street drug the diagnosis of ADHD has become a knee jerk reaction to any child who is not perfect - I know of one case in Australia where a GP diagnosed ADHD in a teenager and in his rush to prescribe completely missed his paranoid schizoprhenia which was only picked up when he stabbed a class mate because the voices told him to do it.  

Never just accept a diagnosis that puts your child on a lifetime of drugs without a second qualified opinion - and IMHO in any case of a mental illness requires a pdoc to confirm it.

Sadly however bipolar, at least in australia, is becoming the new ADHD thanks to several high profile sufferers - its being diagnosed and treated by GP's here (family doc's) who are putting patients on cocktails of drugs without any pdoc intervention - thats dangerous behaviour but it happens all the time.
Avatar universal
I agree with monkey - 100 %

Kids go through 'phases' as well, he could just be testing you.

Have you heard of terrible two's which lasts 'till 4 and a half usually.

Maybe a gentler aproach is better.
Avatar universal
I will try and not make this a book.   I have 2 out of my 3 kids that are ADHD the oldest and  youngest.  When the oldest started having problems in school his father and I refused to allow them to put him on meds after he was diagonised.   In our eyes they just wanted our kid a zombie.  Finaly after 1 in half yrs of battling the school we let them put him on Ritalin.  What a deference it made he missed out basicaly on the first couple of yrs of school by not being able to focas etc.  
Now mind you we really saw no problems at home so we thought.  
Now my youngest he was like your little one.  At the age of 3 and 4 he was in pre k sorta school they saw the S&S of ADHD and we reconized alot of the same. Both children could be so loving then be different in a hurry.  (Also I may ad that in there eyes they often need to be the center of attention.  It does not matter good or bad attention they just want it and crave it.   I was a stay at home mom when my boys were younger so they all had alot of attention.)   So anyways we had him tested and brain mapping done. He was put on meds and it was like night and day.       You will have to understand unless someone has had a ADD or ADHD child  they dont know what is like and form there own opinion on the meds and doctor who give the diagnois.  CHAD is a good site to get info on ADD and ADHD.  Back when I was growing up there was really no such thing as this and now adults are finding out they had or have it.  So many have blinders on and dont really understand what it is all about and form the idea it is just a crutch!!!
Please google ADHD and you will get a ton of info on it.
By the way ADD and ADHD are a chemical imbalance in the brain the meds help with that chemical.
I am sorry for all the misspellings trying to get my thoughts out! lol
Sorry for the book.  Just my 2 cents.
607502 tn?1288251140
Ritalin will improve anyones focus - it is at base pretty much an amphetamine type of drug - in fact the wrong dosage will send a child sky high.  I know because I was one of the first Ritalin kids in Australia when I was young and my parents can still tell you about the effects of the incorrect dosages.

Ritalin is the one of the most over prescribed drug in Australia right now, its become a drug of abuse and is being sold on the street the same way oxycodone is - its become the favorite of workaholics as its seen as safe - its not but the perception and reality rarely mix.

Now I am not saying that your child is not ADHD i am saying I seriously have a problem with medicating 3 and 4 year old children with drugs of the class of ritalin - yes it calms them down but it does the same thing to non ADHD children as well.

Now I am not in other peoples shoes and I am not a doctor but I truly think the prescribing of drugs to children this young is wrong or misguided - Ritalin is addictive and has side effects including psychosis, mood swings and sleep disturbances and has been linked to heart attacks .  Long term usage is unproven as well.

Just reading the wikipedia page on it can give people some idea of the 'safeness' of this drug : en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methylphenidate  
337492 tn?1212462436
I am curious about the history of your son.  Does he come from a stable environment or unstable?  Was his parents neglectful and abusive or addicts?  Sometimes children have a hard time adjusting to a new environment when they are taken from a place they know as home.  IF he is indeed ADHD then the medications prescribed will help him.  If he is bipolar then ADHD meds will not improve his situation.  This is how most children are diagnosed with bipolar disorder.  They are medicated as ADHD and have no reponse and do very well on bipolar medications.  Just had to add my 2 cents worth.  I agree with monkeyc though.  He answered very similar to what I wanted to type to you.  Hope we all have helped you in some way!  Good luck.  
Avatar universal
There are several cases of bipolar in children younger than 8.  I am too tired to dig them up right now, but it does happen but not often.

Secondly, I too refused to give my daughter ADHD meds.  I freaked out over giving her speed and only gave it to her a few times.  Frankly, I was afraid she might get addicted at age 4 or 5.  So, here she is at  6 and we are re-trying the meds.  These meds DO NOT make her stimulated at all....they make her SLEEPY.  So, when I asked the doc about this, he said kids or people with TRUE ADHD (biochemical brain imbalance) will become relaxed and sleepy on dexadrine or other stimulants.  These meds make her feel so much better that she does not get so angry all of the time out of the blue.  Really, they are a godsend!
She is also being treated with abilify for a "mood disorder" and between the two, she is doing pretty well.
Those who say kids are adhd from sugar, dyes, bad parenting, etc...have never had an adhd kid and have no idea how difficult every single daily life thing can be.
My girl stopped napping at 2.  She could not even lay down to rest at age 2.  She still cannot sleep at all, ever without melatonin.
So, not everybody is the same and listen to your gut.
Avatar universal
My daughter at the age of 3 was the same way she has now been on meds for 6 years. I tell you these meds take your life over!! Please find another way hang in there, they WILL MAKE HIM WORSE! It may seem like in the beginning they are helping but years from now he will be worse and then you have a child who never got to experience who he really is without being medicated! If you want to know what im saying take a med they give him and see how bad it makes you feel or crazy! Good luck & please hang in there dont let these horriable meds take your baby away from you!
Avatar universal
IN regards to your comment of "Ritalin will improve anyones focus" this is not true. Ritalin will only improve someone's focus and ability to concentrate better if they truly need it. I am an RN and I am taking Ritalin not for ADD or ADHD but for "Daytime Somnelence". I would sleep an 8 hr night, then while driving to work would just fall asleep in a split second. After several events of that and a couple of near head on collisions with my children with me, I had a sleep study done and a all day nap series done, and I now take Ritalin 3 times daily to keep me awake. It in now way makes me more focused or better able to concentrate as if I am reading, or taking a test I still can not stand for someone to make any noise as I am very easily distracted/ irritated by it. Must have quiet, same as when in nursing school 10 yrs ago. Just FYI that if a med is not working for your child- then it is probably not the correct diagnosis. I have 2 kids that are true ADHD and the meds work/ worked for them. Ages 25 and 7. Best of luck.
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.