Bipolar Disorder in Gifted Child
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
I am concerned that my gifted son will become bipolar. The
reason is his father is bipolar. My son is 6 years old with
an IQ of 140. He is already showing signs of moodiness and
being a perfectionist. He is very sensitive and sometimes
withdraws. Otherwise he can become silly and hyper.
I am also concerned that if he has a psych evaluation and
needs medicines, this would cloud his thinking for school.
Any suggestions on which way to go with this?
A: For the benefit of other
readers, children bipolar disorder (childhood bipolar
disorder), also called manic-depressive disorder, have moods
with extreme ups and downs. They may at times have spells of
mania and may have lots of energy or feelings of
irritability. At other times their mood swings to feelings
of despair (depression), they feel sad and experience
gloominess. Some time ago, experts used to think only adults
developed such a disorder. However, recent studies have
indicated that even a young child can develop bipolar
disorder, although with different symptoms from adults.
The best way to go about this is to get your son evaluated.
The symptoms clearly show possibilities of the disorder,
especially since his father is bipolar. Unfortunately, the
good and the bad come down the tree. Bipolar disorder
appears to run in families. A child is at greater risk of
developing bipolar disorder if a close family member such as
a parent, grandparent, or sibling has the condition, in this
case, his father.
No one is at fault here. Sometimes stress, certain
medications, and some conditions can trigger a bout of
depression in a child with bipolar disorder, but there is
nothing anyone can do to cause or prevent the development of
such a condition. Therefore, parents should never blame
themselves or others. Furthermore, medication is necessary
(your doctor will explain why) to balance brain chemical
that causes the mood swings. Your doctor would be the best
person to advise you here.
Bipolar gifted children often show gifts in writing and
philosophy. They are very concerned about the truth and do
not tolerate absurdity. Proper educational intervention is
also necessary for a gifted child with bipolar disorder.
There is a website for bipolar support groups online at
www.bpkids.org which you may want to view. Please see a
doctor as soon as possible to get your son evaluated and
Misdiagnosis And Dual Diagnoses Of Gifted Children And Adults: ADHD, Bipolar, OCD, Asperger's, Depression, And Other Disorders
James T. Webb Ph.D, Edward R. Amend Psy.D, Nadia E. Webb Psy.D
Our brightest, most creative children and adults are often
being misdiagnosed with behavioral and emotional disorders
such as ADHD, Oppositional-Defiant Disorder, Bipolar, OCD,
or Asperger's. Many receive unneeded medication and
inappropriate counseling as a result.
Written for parents and professionals
Characteristics of gifted children and adults
Diagnoses most commonly given to gifted children and adults
Traits of diagnoses incorrectly given to gifted children and
Guidelines to avoid mislabeling gifted children
Parent-child relationship problems
Issues for gifted adults
Advice for selecting a counselor or health care professional