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In general, the older the individual, the more the symptoms may resemble those seen in adults.Bipolar disorder and ADHD As any parent of a child with ADHD has probably already noted, there is a significant overlap in the symptoms of mania, and to a lesser extent depression, and the symptoms of ADHD.There is little disagreement about whether it exists.
The controversy As mentioned earlier, mental health practitioners disagree about the symptoms of bipolar disorder in youth and how they differ from those in adults.
In adolescents, where the presentation of the disorder more closely resembles that seen in adults, there is much less controversy.
Behaviors connected to major depressive episodes: The combination of episodes of mania and major depressive episodes is what constitutes classic bipolar disorder.
However, more than one type of bipolar disorder exists.
These experts clearly recognize that this definition excludes a number of children with episodes of mood instability, explosive rage episodes, extreme irritability and agitation.
There is no disagreement that children with these symptoms are impaired.Bipolar disorder in children and adolescents In adults, bipolar disorder commonly involves separate episodes of major depression, alternating with separate episodes of mania.In children mixed states (a mix of mania and depression) and rapid cycling (mood swings) may be much more common.Other experts feel this approach will lead to the overdiagnosis of children who in fact suffer from disorders other than bipolar disorder.These experts argue for a narrower definition of bipolar disorder which includes episodic mood swings, elevated or expansive mood—not just irritable mood—and grandiosity or inappropriate euphoria (extreme joyfulness).ADHD, mania and depression may all involve inability to concentrate and problems with distractibility.Mania and ADHD may both involve hyperactivity and impulsivity.In older children and adolescents, episodes including euphoria, grandiosity and paranoia may predominate.In all age groups hyperactivity, distractibility and pressured speech are seen.In younger children chronic irritability and mood instability without classic mood swings may predominate.These symptoms most closely resemble a mixed state of the disorder.