Bipolar in Children: Signs & Help

Does your child display mood swings? Are you concerned that your child may have bipolar disorder? To help understand the signs of bipolar disorder and what type of help is available for bipolar children, I have interviewed therapist Jessica Ives, MA, NCC, LCPC.

Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I am a Child and Family Therapist and work at Life Counseling Center in Easton, MD. I specialize in children using play therapy. I am currently being trained to be a RPT (Registered Play Therapist) through the Association for Play Therapists. I’ve been married for 12 years and have 2 children.”

What are the signs and symptoms of bipolar in children?
“There are many signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder in children but the confusing part is that these symptoms can also look like many other things as well. It’s important to get a diagnosis from a professional because bipolar disorder in children is difficult to diagnose. Some of the very common symptoms are rages, oppositional behavior, frequent mood swings, ADHD, restlessness, aggressiveness, depressed mood, risk taking behaviors, anxiety, racing thoughts, and low self esteem.”

What type of impact does bipolar have on a child’s life?
“Bipolar disorder can have a major impact on children. Children who suffer without treatment do worse in school, social situations, and have difficulty in the family dynamic. Without treatment kids can feel isolated, different, bad, or just not able to control themselves.”

What type of help is available for children who have bipolar?
“Help is available for children with bipolar. The first step is getting a diagnosis and getting treatment. A therapist, psychiatrist, or psychologist can typically diagnose bipolar disorder. The child’s pediatrician can sometimes be the first step to getting help as well. They can often steer a parent in the right direction. A child with bipolar disorder needs medication and counseling.”

What advice would you like to give to a parent who has a bipolar child?
“Bipolar Disorder in a child is not the end of the world. There is help available but it is important to be consistent in getting the child treatment. Many parents just stop after their child seems better. Children need consistency, structure, and many attainable goals for them to keep focused. Bipolar disorder is manageable.”

Thank you Jessica for doing the interview on bipolar children. For more information on Jessica Ives or her work you can check out her website on

Recommended Readings:
Tips For Identifying Bipolar Disorder in Your Teen
Bipolar Disorder
Major Depressive Disorder