Pediatric Bipolar Disorder
Pediatric Bipolar Disorder (PBD) just might be the most controversial diagnosis in all of child psychiatry. Experts feud over whether or not kids should even be given this diagnosis while nervous systems finish maturing. The upcoming DSM V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders) committee’s attempts to categorize PBD has fueled numerous heated conversations throughout the mental health community. If diagnosed treatment is further debated. Of course, if your own child is the one given this diagnosis, controversies don’t seem to matter all that much. All that really matters is figuring out how to help your child get better in the best way possible.
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
In adults, Bipolar Disorder is considered a mood disorder where extreme swings occur between depression, on one end, to mania, on the other. Mania is a condition where a person experiences an extreme, natural high (technically meaning non-drug induced). In mania, one goes with little to no sleep for days, exhibits rapid speech, a sense of grandiosity, impulsivity, and risky behavior, and sometimes psychosis develops as a temporary break with reality occurs. Depression is the opposite--an extreme low. Someone in depression may sleep all the time, feel physically lethargic, have thoughts of death or suicide, and experience changes in appetite with weight loss or gain. On the Bipolar spectrum, many variations exist: from more mild forms of the disease, to rapid cycling episodes, to severe psychosis in manias, or depressions in need of hospitalization.
Pediatric Bipolar Controversy
In children, Bipolar Disorder may manifest as severe behavioral problems resembling a Conduct Disorder (CD). Complicating matters further, sometimes co-exists with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and more frequently than adults has psychotic features making it difficult to distinguish from early-onset schizophrenia. The coexistent and overlapping diagnoses make PBD especially difficult to diagnose and treat, since many treatments that help ADHD exacerbate PBD. Diagnosis is complicated by human variables in child development. Some have argued that the diagnosis shouldn’t even apply to kids at all since many behaviors considered inappropriate for adults, e.g. throwing a temper tantrum in the grocery store, or even engaging in imaginary play with fantastical characters are part of normal child development. Over diagnosing normal or “eccentric” kids ultimately helps no one and can lead to a lifetime of unnecessary medications with harmful side effects.
On the other hand, other experts argue that PBD has different symptoms in the pediatric population, perhaps due to developmental differences, categories ought to account for this fact. With reliable categories in hand, early intervention and treatment can occur. What is known and largely unrefuted, is that untreated Bipolar Disorder whether of adult or childhood onset tends to progress, leading to more severe forms of the disease and physical degeneration in the brain over time. Additionally, poor treatment protocols such as the usage of the SSRI’s (an antidepressant drug class) can exacerbate the illness and lead to more episodes and rapid cycling. Some experts theorize that true Pediatric Bipolar Disorder might be an early onset of the more serious types of Adult Bipolar Disorder.
Thus, in the past ten years or so, the diagnosis of PBD in the United States has skyrocketed. Going from being an extraordinarily rare diagnostic category to an almost catch-all or over-diagnosed category for many children. Unfortunately, mood stabilizers such as Lithium or Carbamazepine have been shown to be less effective in the pediatric population as compared to adults. As a result, more pediatric patients are reportedly receiving atypical antipsychotics such as Risperidone (Risperdal/Consta) or Aripiprazole (Abilify) as treatment. While the side effect profiles in adults for these drugs are decently understood, we have less understanding of potential variable side effects in children.
Wouldn’t it be great if Pediatric Bipolar Disorder could be treated early, safely, and effectively without such a high risk of undesirable side effects?
Homeopathic Treatment of Pediatric Bipolar Disorder
Children respond to homeopathic treatment exceptionally well--indeed in an almost inspirational kind of way. Bipolar Disorder tends to respond well to homeopathic treatment. The combination of these two factors is deeply encouraging: (child + bipolar disorder) = good chance for a great outcome. Additionally, many of the learned “social habits” of adulthood that can make the homeopathic prescription process difficult are absent. Children often haven’t learned to hide or disguise true feelings, to suppress what they’d like to say or do. They simply haven't yet acquired many cultural behavioral norms. While these “deficits” might appropriately challenge the parenting process--“Susie stop hitting Sammie with that toy,” these same “deficits” make the homeopathic medicine prescription more straightforward in kids. In the field of homeopathy, straightforwardness of the case taking process translates into better prescriptions and better outcomes. Specific medicines are chosen based on an individual's particular or unique experience of a disease process. Good results are intimately tied to accurate prescriptions based on discovering these particulars.
Call or email our office today to learn more about homeopathic treatment if you are concerned your child's behavior might be related to Pediatric Bipolar Disorder or ADHD. We would love to help answer your questions about initiating treatment with us. As a fellow parent of three children, our physician understands your concerns. Ultimately, all that really matters is figuring out how to help your child get better.