Bipolar disorder and ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, are two conditions that are increasingly being diagnosed in American children and teens, often together. And interestingly, in children and teens, there are some similarities in the symptoms of the two conditions. But how can a doctor know for sure if the child has bipolar disorder or ADHD? Also, how does the treatment for these two conditions differ?
Medical science is learning more about bipolar disorder in children and teens. But the condition is still difficult to diagnose. That's especially true for teenagers in whom irritability and moodiness commonly co-exist as part of a normal adolescence. A preteen or teenager with mood swings may be going through a difficult but normal developmental stage. Or he or she may be suffering from bipolar disorder with periodic mood changes that shift from depression to mania.
In addition, symptoms of ADHD often mimic symptoms of bipolar disorder. With ADHD, a child or teen may have rapid or impulsive speech, physical restlessness, trouble focusing, irritability, and, sometimes, defiant or oppositional behavior. Children or teens with bipolar disorder often have similar behaviors.
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