Checklist Of Symptoms Of Bipolar In Children

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Diagnosing children as having bipolar disorder presents a challenge as many of the symptoms could be normal or are similar to ADHD. Therapists report that children demonstrating a manic phase are generally more irritable than adults. Youngsters are also more likely to talk about having psychotic breaks characterized by audio and visual hallucinations. While some may experience typical signs of depression, more common symptoms include complaining about having aches and pains. Though cycling between manic and depressive episodes occurs over weeks, months or years in adults, children may switch back and forth in a single day.

Common Manic Symptoms

The results of a study evaluating 130 bipolar children of various ages was published in a 2008 article in the “Journal of Affective Disorders.” Researchers found that all of the children exhibited two or three main characteristics during manic phases. The symptoms were:

Elation or high levels of happiness that were beyond normal
Grandiosity or having an extreme sense of self-confidence and entitlement
• Racing thoughts that manifested in rapid speech patterns that were incomprehensible
• Easily distracted, which led to careless mistakes, disorganization and an inability to complete tasks
Recurrent fits of rage occurring bi-weekly, lasting 20 minutes or longer and typified by physical or verbal aggression.

Bipolar Checklist

Dr. Demitri Papolos and his wife co-wrote a book entitled “The Bipolar Child,” which was based on information that the couple obtained after performing extensive research. They formulated a checklist of the most common symptoms that bipolar children exhibit. Since that time, researchers and therapists have created various forms of the list, which contain 40 to 80 symptoms of the disorder. Parents may consider seeking professional help for a child if a youngster is or has demonstrated 20 or more of the symptoms.

1) Separation anxiety
2) Overly anxious or worried
3) Difficulty awakening in the morning
4) Hyperactive in the evening
5) Difficulty falling asleep or frequently awakens
6) Frequent nightmares
7) Inability to concentrate in school
8) Poor penmanship
9) Unorganized
10) Has difficulty with change
11) Complains of boredom
12) Racing thought patterns
13) Intuitive
14) Creative
15) Easily distracted
16) Frequent episodes of rapid speech
17) Defiant
18) Rapid mood swings
19) Abrupt irritability
20) Overly giddy or silly
21) Exaggerated ideas about abilities, accomplishments or goals
22) Inappropriate sexual behavior
23) Easily criticized or rejected
24) Lacks motivation
25) Periods of self-imposed isolation
26) Low self-esteem
27) Impatient
28) Self-serving
29) Argumentative
30) Does not accept responsibility for own actions
31) Angers easily
32) Lies to escape consequences
33) Explosive temper tantrums
34) Destructive behavior
35) Uses vulgarity when angered
36) Threatens others or threatens self-harm
37) Suggestions or threats of suicide
38) Fascination with death, blood and violence
39) Audio or visual hallucinations
40) Obsessive/compulsive behavior

Cite this page: N., Sam M.S., "Checklist Of Symptoms Of Bipolar In Children," in, March 25, 2016, (accessed September 26, 2022).