By Mary A. Fristad
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Extra resources for Raising a Moody Child: How to Cope with Depression and Bipolar Disorder
As with sadness, however, keep in mind that severity is a subjective judgment unless it’s tied to something measurable, such as a change from the child’s typical functioning of the past. Happiness also falls on a continuum and generally should match the situation in degree and frequency. About three weeks ago, fifteen-yearold Marcia, typically described as calm and serious, started laughing too hard and too long and at the wrong things. She giggled for several minutes when her mother told Marcia that her brother had broken his ankle.
So far she has been lucky and hasn’t hurt herself seriously. How Do I Sort Out the Symptoms? You may have noticed as you read the previous section that some symptoms were listed under more than one diagnostic category. So how do you figure out where your child fits in? Are you dealing with depression or bipolar disorder? Differentiating between the symptoms of mania and depression can often be tricky. In Table 1, we have compared the ways in which symptoms of depression and mania appear. As we discussed earlier in the chapter, figuring out which mood states your child experiences is the first challenge.
A call to his therapist confirmed their decision to take him directly to the emergency room. Bipolar disorder involves cycles between extreme moods at both ends of the spectrum—periods of depression, with extremely low moods (sadness and/or irritability and/or loss of interest), and periods of mania, with extremely high moods (rage or euphoria). Episodes of depression and mania can be separated by years or in some cases by weeks, days, or even hours. (Mark’s most significant depressive episode was during fourth grade, at age ten.