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Updated : August 1, 2022 3 mins read

Bipolar | Support for families and carers

Updated : August 1, 2022 3 mins read

Article Bipolar

Bipolar is a mental health condition that can involve extreme highs and lows in mood, the condition usually develops around 15 -19 however people can get diagnosed with bipolar at a much younger or older age.

It can be distressing seeing a loved one go through the vicious cycles of bipolar, especially if they are not getting the treatment or help they need yet.

Signs your child might have bipolar

Bipolar is characterised by two opposite states; mania and depressive episode. A person can experience both states, mixed or just one depending on the type of bipolar they have. You can find out more about types and episodes.

Signs that your child might have bipolar include:

  • Extremes in mood which can last for days, weeks or move from one to the other quickly
  • Explosive behaviour which can be destructive
  • Separation anxiety
  • Impulsivity, racing thoughts, unable to concentrate or focus
  • Trouble sleeping or bed wetting
  • Jumping from one activity or project to another
  • Periods of really low mood
  • Risk taking behaviour or daredevil like
  • Inappropriate behaviour, including over sexualised
  • Grandiose beliefs
  • Experiencing delusions or hallucinations
  • Older children may try to self medicate with alcohol, drugs or smoking

If you are worried about your child, it is important that you support them to speak to a professional. These signs may indicate that your child has bipolar but they could also highlight other mental health difficulties.

How to talk to your child about bipolar

It’s important that your child has the right level of support and treatment to help them understand and come to terms with their bipolar.

Be aware that usual adolescent transitions like exams, going to university or having a relationship breakdown can trigger episodes and they may need extra support around these times.

Getting help for your child

You can find out about getting help for bipolar here.

NHS Inform also has lots of information on diagnosis, treatment and what to expect from a treatment plan.

There are organisations that support people with a diagnosis of bipolar, many groups or volunteers have lived experience of having bipolar or supporting someone with the condition.

Useful contacts

See Me Scotland

Scotland’s national programme to end mental health stigma. Offering tools and resources on mental health and how to get involved in ending stigma. Does not offer emergency help

Bipolar Scotland

Scotland’s national bipolar charity offering information, training and group support for people with bipolar

Bipolar UK

UKwide bipolar charity offering resources, group support and peer support lines

Royal College of Psychiatrists

Information for parents, carers and people working with young people with bipolar

Bipolar is a condition that your child will manage throughout their life, supporting them to look after themselves and becoming aware of their own triggers and helps with long term management.

Get Help now

If you are concerned about your mental health, or if you have found yourself feeling concerned about someone else, you can:

Call 111 – NHS 24

Call 116 123 – The Samaritans

Call 0800 83 85 87 – Breathing Space

Text: ‘YM’ to 85258 – Young Minds crisis chat

If you think you are in danger of hurting yourself or other people, you should call 999 or present to your local A&E department.