Living With Teenagers With Bipolar Disorder: How to Know the Limits and Understand the Relationship
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Bipolar disorder is a type of mood disorder. It’s a mental health disorder that is characterized by changes in mood during episodes of mania and depression. These episodes can cause significant alterations in feelings, thoughts and behavior. It can be diagnosed in people of any age, whether young children or adults. Research suggests that around 4.4% of people in the U.S. will exhibit the symptoms of bipolar disorder during some point in their lifetimes. Approximately 2.9% of young adults and teenagers are estimated to have bipolar disorder. Nearly 2.6% of those young adults have symptoms that impair their everyday functioning.

Are you a parent of a teenager who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder? You may also struggle with managing the relationship. Perhaps you think that you don’t discipline your teenager enough. Or, that your attempts are often unsuccessful. Parenting children who have bipolar disorder can feel challenging at times — especially when you’re trying to determine how best to discipline them. Would you like to learn more about how to know the limits of disciplining a teen with bipolar disorder? You can find out more information below.

What does it mean for a teenager to have bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder can cause a range of symptoms that feel overwhelming to most adults with the disorder. Teenagers are still developing emotionally as well as physically, and are often under significant pressure. Imagine how overwhelming the symptoms can feel for your child. Common symptoms of bipolar disorder in teens include:

  • Intense emotions — One of the primary symptoms of bipolar disorder is having very intense emotions during periods of mania and depression. Whether actively in an episode or in a period between these two types of episodes, your teen’s emotions will likely feel intensified.
  • Intense changes in moods and behaviors — You may notice during a manic episode that your teen is energetic, cheerful and confident. These can swing to mirror the symptoms of depressive episodes fairly quickly, however. 
  • Irregularities with sleep patterns — You might notice that your teen has developed irregular sleep habits as a result of their bipolar disorder. They may want to stay in bed and sleep for longer periods during depressive episodes, or feel as if they need little to no sleep during a manic episode. 
  • Irregularities with energy levels — Just as you may notice irregularities in sleep habits, you might also notice fluctuations in their energy levels. Periods of mania are typically associated with increased energy, while periods of depression are linked with significant decreases in energy levels.

How do I know the limits of disciplining a teenager with bipolar disorder?

If you’re a parent hoping to learn how to improve your disciplining strategies for your teen who has bipolar disorder, there are a couple of ways. The first is by starting an open and honest dialogue with your teenager. It’s important to establish boundaries between parent and child, for the sake of both parties. Taking the time to establish boundaries with your teen can lead to a more respectful relationship between the two of you. While you’re expressing your boundaries, be sure to ask your teenager if there are any boundaries that they’d like to set with you as well.

Another way to get help with disciplining your teenager is by getting help from a licensed clinical therapist. Therapists are great resources for both parents and their teens. They can help you both learn more about enforcing boundaries, exercising compassion and developing coping skills. The goal of the therapist is to help your teen better manage their symptoms of bipolar disorder through treatment so that the quality of their life — and, by extension, their relationship with you — can improve.

Lightfully can provide high-quality treatment for teens who have bipolar disorder

Our mission at Lightfully is to provide high-quality mental health care to various types of clients. We believe in using a focused approach to process-based therapy. The framework of our clinic consists of evidence-based, clearly defined, data-driven and whole-person-centered care. We have experience working with various mental health disorders. That’s why we’re confident that we can help your teen manage their bipolar disorder symptoms over time.

Lightfully offers multiple levels of care to both adults and teens: Residential Treatment, Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), and Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), also referred to as our Day Treatment Program. We can work with your teen to determine how their bipolar disorder symptoms are impacting their daily functionality. From there, we can create a unique treatment plan designed to improve their quality of life. 

Change is possible. When you and your teen are ready to take the first step, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take the next steps together, toward the fullest, brightest version of your teen.

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