Stirling Behavioral Health Institute

  Mental Health Services Provider

  6931 Van Nuys Blvd. #102 

  Phone (818) 376-0134 
  Fax (818) 376-1437

Bipolar disorder is a mental health disorder characterized by extreme highs and lows in mood and energy. This is often referred to as manic-depression.


Contrary to how it is sometimes used in conversation, bipolar disorder does not mean a person is highly emotional but rather refers to someone who experiences extended periods of mood and energy that are excessively high and or/irritable to sad and hopeless, with periods of normal mood in between.


It typically begins in adolescence or early adulthood and continues throughout life.


What Are the Signs and Symptoms?

Bipolar disorder begins with either manic or depressive symptoms. Not all children with bipolar disorder have all symptoms. Children with bipolar disorder are likely to have a family history of the illness. If a child you know is struggling with any combination of the symptoms listed below for more than two weeks, talk with a doctor or mental health professional.


  • Severe changes in mood—from unusually happy or silly to irritable, angry or aggressive.
  • Unrealistic highs in self-esteem. May feel indestructible.
  • Great increase in energy level. Sleeps little without being tired.
  • Excessive involvement in multiple projects and activities. May move from one thing to the next and become easily distracted.
  • Increase in talking. Talks too much, too fast, changes topics too quickly, and cannot be interrupted. This may be accompanied by racing thoughts or feeling pressure to keep talking.
  • Risk-taking behavior such as abusing drugs and alcohol, attempting daredevil stunts, or being sexually active or having unprotected sex.


  • Frequent sadness or crying
  • Withdrawal from friends and activities
  • Decreased energy level, lack of enthusiasm or motivation
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
  • Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure
  • Major changes in habits such as over-sleeping or over-eating
  • Frequent physical complaints such as headaches and stomachaches
  • Recurring thoughts of death, suicide, or self-destructive behavior 

Many teens with bipolar disorder abuse alcohol and drugs as a way to escape, and should be evaluated for a mental health disorder. If an addiction develops, it is essential to treat both the mental health disorder and the substance abuse problem at the same time.


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