Formerly known as manic depression, bipolar disorder refers to the condition characterized by extreme emotional lows and highs. The condition typically develops anytime between the pre-teen into the adult years. However, approximately 15 percent of the diagnosed cases begin during childhood and are more often boys. Symptoms of bipolar disorder in boys vary.
While the majority of people experience sadness from time to time, the depressive moods of bipolar disorders are much more severe. However, as children often have difficulty expressing their feelings, depressed boys often act out in unexpected ways. The symptoms are not what someone might equate with typical depression. Bipolar boys are often defiant and display irrational irritability, aggression and extreme temper tantrums. They often express anger explosively by yelling or screaming accompanied by slamming or throwing objects. Activities that usually bring joy or satisfaction are commonly of little interest during depressive episodes that can last several weeks.
Parents might notice changes in their son's appetite. He might lose interest in food completely and begin losing weight. Boys might also become obsessed with eating as a form of self-soothing, make unhealthy dietary choices and gain weight. Sleeping patterns also extend and boys may express that constantly feeling tired, oversleep or fall asleep easily. They may also go through periods of isolating themselves from family members and friends.
Extreme depression in boys may commonly leads to thoughts of death, violence or suicide. He might ask questions about what it might be like to be dead or express that he and everyone else might be better off if he were dead. This symptom requires immediate attention by the child's therapist. Alternatively, parents might seriously consider taking the child to emergency services for evaluation.
During manic phases of bipolar disorder, boys seem to have an endless abundance of energy and may go for two or more days with little or no sleep. Their appetite also wanes, which leads to weight loss. Their thought processes are also in hyper overdrive, which inhibits their ability to concentrate on any particular topic. Whether having negative thoughts during depressive phases or racing thoughts during manic phases, bipolar boys commonly have difficulty concentrating most of the time. The lack of focus typically shows up in their inability to excel in school.
It is not unusual for boys to spend hours engaged in playing with friends or other activities that give them pleasure. They may appear abnormally happy or high and have poor impulse control. When approaching the teen years, they are more likely to become involved in risky behaviors that may include experimenting with alcohol, drugs or sex. Older boys are often attracted to dangerous activities that make them feel invincible while manic. Danger also serves as a means of self-destruction when depressed.