Bipolar Disorder in Children and Teens: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 5/29/2020

Bipolar disorder is a form of mental illness in which the affected person alternates between feelings of elevated mood and high energy (manic phase) and periods of depression. Bipolar disorder may occur in both children and adults. The condition was formerly called manic depression.

Signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder in children and teens can include

  • feeling very happy or acting silly in a way that's unusual for people their age,
  • a short temper,
  • fast talking,
  • sleep problems, and
  • engaging in risky behaviors.

All these are characteristic of a manic episode. Symptoms associated with the depressive phase of bipolar disorder include

  • sadness,
  • loss of energy and interest in activities,
  • thoughts of suicide, and
  • feelings of worthlessness.

Cause of bipolar disorder in children and teens

Doctors do not understand the exact cause of bipolar disorder, but they believe it arises as a result of a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Other bipolar disorder in children and teens symptoms

  • A Short Temper
  • Engaging in Risky Behaviors
  • Fast Talking
  • Feeling Very Happy or Acting Silly in a Way That's Unusual for People Their Age
  • Feelings of Worthlessness
  • Loss of Energy and Interest in Activities
  • Sadness
  • Sleep Problems
  • Thoughts of Suicide


What Is Bipolar Disorder? Symptoms, Manic Episodes, Testing See Slideshow

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Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.