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Bipolar Disorder in Gifted Child

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D


Q: 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 start treatment.

Featured Resource

 

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 adults

  • Guidelines to avoid mislabeling gifted children

  • Parent-child relationship problems

  • Issues for gifted adults

  • Advice for selecting a counselor or health care professional

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