If a medical professional had to make one note to parents of a teen with bipolar disorder, it would probably be this: bipolar disorder is highly treatable, and your teen will likely live a happy and healthy life. Teens and children of all ages are affected by this disorder, often going years without being properly diagnosed. Diagnosing the disorder in teens and children can be difficult; mental health experts often recommend that parents receive a second opinion as a result.
Effective treatment of bipolar in teens goes far beyond medication and visits to a mental health professional. While counseling and medication are the centerpieces of bipolar treatment, parents play an important role in their teen’s treatment. Bipolar teens benefit from structure; parents should assist and support their teens without being overbearing.
Parents need to work with their teens to make sure they stay on a normal, healthy sleeping schedule; erratic schedules encourage erratic moods in individuals with bipolar. Providing a healthy diet that is free of excessive sugar and caffeine will also benefit a teen, as certain foods can contribute to manic behavior. Given the prevalence of illicit drug and alcohol abuse in bipolar individuals, parents should also keep an eye out for any signs of chemical use.
An important note to parents of a teen with bipolar disorder: your teen’s bipolar treatment should be a team effort. Bipolar teens benefit from family therapy and other communal environments that reinforce the love and support that surrounds them. Bipolar is a treatable disorder that affects millions of Americans, including no shortage of remarkable individuals. Those that have loving and supportive families are far more likely to live comfortably with their condition.