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Patient-Centered Guides

January 2000

Bipolar Disorders Affect One Million Children & Adolescents

What are Bipolar Disorders?

Bipolar disorders are illnesses characterized by extreme mood swings, from the deepest suicidal depression to the most elated "highs". They include bipolar I (manic depression), bipolar II, cyclothymia, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Some of the most famous artists, musicians, politicians, and writers of our time have been bipolar, and so have been a disproportionate number of the inmates in our juvenile facilities, psychiatric hospitals, and prisons.

SEBASTOPOL, CA --As many as one million children in the United States have childhood-onset bipolar disorder. Until very recently, bipolar disorders were almost never diagnosed in children, and only rarely recognized in adolescents. Of the 2 million or more adults diagnosed with a bipolar disorder, between 20 and 40 percent experienced the illness in their childhood years. Psychiatrists now recognize that manic depression is frequently misdiagnosed as ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

Mitzi Waltz, author of Bipolar Disorders: A Guide to Helping Children & Adolescents, brings together the latest information about diagnosing, treating and coping with bipolar disorders as they occur in children and youth. The symptoms and solutions can differ from those for adults. This book provides parents and professionals with information on:

  • How to get a diagnosis and how to avoid common misdiagnoses
  • Family life, including, safety, support, and recognizing and preventing mood swings
  • Medications, with special emphasis on the physiology and responses of children and adolescents compared to those of bipolar adults
  • Therapeutic interventions, including various "talk therapies"
  • Other interventions, such as improving sleep patterns, preventing seasonal mood swings, diet, and supplements
  • Insurance issues
  • How to work with the education system
When bipolar disorders appear in youth, the ravages can be severe. Suicide is a common outcome, as are school failures, limited job prospects, legal difficulties, substance abuse, and expensive hospitalizations. Parents of bipolar children are in dire need of information on what to do and how to get help. Waltz' book is a comprehensive and reliable resource guide that provides parents and professionals with the tools to make informed decisions.

About the Author

Mitzi Waltz is a Portland, OR-based freelance writer who has covered technology, health and medicine for publications ranging from Parenting to Covert Action Quarterly. As a journalist and mother of a young woman with bipolar disorder, she knows firsthand the struggles that parents of bipolar children endure. She is also the author of Pervasive Developmental Disorders: Finding a Diagnosis and Getting Help (Patient-Centered Guides, 1999).

Bipolar Disorders: A Guide to Helping Children & Adolescents
by Mitzi Waltz
$24.95, 444 pages, paperback
ISBN: 1-56592-656-0

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