Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that causes extreme changes in mood and energy. People with bipolar disorder have intense shifts in mood that affect their ability to function normally. These shifts are called mood episodes and there are three different types of common episodes that can happen in individuals who suffer from this disorder.

Manic Episodes

These episodes are characterized by moments of feeling an extreme shift to elation or irritability. During a manic episode, someone may experience unusual amounts of energy and drive. A manic episode may look like this:

  • Increased sex drive, use of drugs, gambling, and other addictive behaviors.
  • Less sleep.
  • They may be moving and talking quickly, or laughing and smiling without reason.
  • Feeling like a “genius” compared to their peers, having extremely high self-esteem, and ideas of holding higher, god-like powers.
  • Intense focus on goals and having “brilliant” ideas people do not understand.

Depressive Episodes

Depressive episodes are mostly the opposite of manic episodes. The surge in energy felt in a manic state is gone in the depressive state. Someone may feel unusually depressed and unmotivated. A depressive episode may look like this:

  • Decreased appetite and sex drive.
  • No motivation to socially interact or pursue hobbies.
  • Lack of concentration or focus, along with forgetting things.
  • Cannot sit still or does not want to move at all.
  • Thoughts of suicide and death.

Hypomanic Episodes

Hypomanic episodes are a less severe form of manic episodes.



  • Bipolar l disorder - This is when they have at least one manic episode followed by a depressive episode.
  • Bipolar ll disorder - At least one depressive episode lasting two weeks, but without a manic episode.
  • Cyclothymic disorder - At least two years with both types of episodes.

US Statistics On Teen Bipolar Disorder

  • More than two-thirds of people who are diagnosed with bipolar disorder have a relative with bipolar disorder or depression, indicating this disorder could be hereditary.
  • 2.5 percent of youth meet criteria for bipolar disorder in their lifetime.
  • The rate of bipolar symptoms in teens is almost as high as adults.
  • Around 20% of teens with depression develop bipolar disorder within 5 years of the onset of depression.
  • Out of the 3.4 million children in the U.S. experiencing depression, as many as one-third of them may be experiencing early signs of bipolar disorder.
  • When teens are experiencing a manic episode, they are more likely to be irritable and have frequent outbursts than adults.
  • Teens may have physical complaints about headaches and sickness during school as an onset of a depressive episode. They may also be socially isolated.
  • There is a 15-30% chance of a child having bipolar disorder if one of the parents has it.

How Parents May View Teen Bipolar Disorder

There are different symptoms depending on what mood state they are in, but here a few major signs parents see in their teens with bipolar disorder.

  • Reckless behavior - This is a big one. While reckless behavior can be seen in many teens, the more extreme and unusual form can be a sign of a bigger problem. Teens may all of a sudden have an intense sex drive, desire to do drugs, or gamble. They may be violent and impulsive.
  • Difficulty concentrating - They may have a very hard time focusing on school or on their hobbies and goals. They may be constantly distracted and unable to pursue an activity for very long.
  • Sleep - They may not be sleeping very much, deeming it unimportant or just having too much energy. If they are in a depressive episode, they may sleep excessively.
  • Irritability - Extreme forms of irritability, impatience, and aggressiveness.
  • Self-Importance - They may see themselves as better than everyone, even “genius” compared to them.
  • Intense focus - While many teens with bipolar disorder may have difficulty concentrating, on the opposite end of the spectrum, they may have a surge in drive and focus, leading to increased productivity.
  • No pleasure - During a depressive episode, they may have no desire to do things that formerly used to interest them. They may have no desire to eat, sleep, or interact with others.
  • Suicidal - Increased thoughts of death and suicide.

How Teens View Their Bipolar Disorder

  • Obsessive thoughts - They may have obsessive thoughts most of their day. Constantly replaying negative events, songs, scenarios, and thoughts throughout their head. The rate of people with OCD is higher within the bipolar population.
  • Extreme thoughts - Everything is either one way or another. The teen may be absolutely elated or extremely depressed. They may jump to conclusions and freak out over scenarios. They may overreact in their head and become paranoid about things that are not important.
  • Distraction - They may find themselves constantly distracted, unable to focus on anything for very long. They may show signs of ADHD, and swich thoughts and ideas a lot.
  • Trying to be ‘normal’ - Teens with bipolar disorder may try their hardest to show signs of being ‘normal’. With their obsessive and extreme thoughts, they may try not to burden others but instead try to overcome their fears on their own. This can lead to feelings of isolation by trying so hard to fit in but knowing no one understands.


What Parents Can Do To Help Their Teen Struggling With Bipolar Disorder


If your teen has bipolar disorder, talk to a doctor about what kinds of medication is right for them. It is usually best to start out small, and try to take the least amount possible to help the symptoms. You do not want your child completely dependent on them for their success.


Getting therapy for your child is important for them to naturally heal. While medications can be a great help, it is better in the long run for children to learn how to manage their symptoms on their own. This is goal of Liahona Academy, to help your kid heal in the best environment possible.

Some things you can personally do to help:

  • Be as understanding and patient as possible.
  • Encourage them to talk.
  • Show them how treatment can help.
  • Try to have fun with your teen, do fun things with them that they enjoy.

How Teens Can Help Themselves

Avoid “triggers”. Things or events that may cause obsessive or paranoid thoughts.

  • Try to avoid having crazy or unpredictable schedules.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and drugs.
  • Exercise daily to help clear the mind and release endorphins.
  • Control stress by simplifying daily schedules and activities.
  • Stop taking medications if they have a negative effect.


Liahona Academy is a residential treatment center for troubled boys who suffer with behavioral, emotional, or mental health issues. We remove them from their harsh environment full of triggers and put them in a safe, secure place supervised by professionals. We give them our full support by offering individual and group therapy sessions, helping them increase their relationship with themselves and their families.

It can be hard for a teen with bipolar disorder to heal in the environment they have always been in, so we give them a chance to experience a new place where their mind can change in a way that has not been done before. While helping them through therapy, we also have them participate in art, music, sports, and other types of recreation that keep them fulfilled and challenged. There is hope for every teen to succeed, and by putting them through long-term therapy instead of short-term, they have an immersive environment helping them succeed every step of the way.