Bipolar disorder or mood swings in kids?

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - We see cases of bipolar disorder in the movies where a character has extreme changes in behavior.

Since mood swings are a part of growing up, how do you know if your child is normal or showing signs of a developing mental illness?

Dr. Sarah Wakefield, a Pediatric Psychiatrist and Texas Tech physician, says with bipolar disorder, you check the calendar for how long it lasts.

She explains, "What we are talking about are episodes, so five to seven days of feeling elated, euphoric or irritable, on edge, at least two weeks of a depressed mood. Usually it doesn't immediately go back and forth so you have an episode of depression, then you have an episode of mania."

Dr. Wakefield adds that with bipolar disorder, the symptoms are so extreme that they cause  dysfunction in school or work or relationships, but she adds that if you are concerned about a child, it is worth checking out because even if it is not bipolar disorder, the symptoms could be a clue hat something else is wrong.

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