Identifying Bipolar Disorder in Teens: Common Signs and Symptoms

Bipolar disorder in teens can be difficult to spot, leading to potential misdiagnoses. Read on to learn more about bipolar disorder symptoms in teens.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness characterized by extreme mood swings ranging from manic highs to depressive lows. Identifying bipolar disorder in teens is particularly important because early detection and treatment can greatly improve outcomes and prevent potential long-term outcomes. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 2.8% of people in the United States experience bipolar disorder in any given year.1

Bipolar Disorder in Teens

Bipolar Disorder Management

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that can affect a person’s mood, energy level, and ability to function. People with bipolar disorder may also experience episodes of extreme mood swings. They often can have periods of very high energy and excitement, while other times feel very low and depressed.

These episodes can last for a long time and make it difficult for them to live their life normally and have good relationships with others. Bipolar disorder is a chronic condition that requires ongoing treatment and management.

Who Does Bipolar Disorder Affect?

Bipolar disorder can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity. The condition typically develops in late adolescence or early adulthood. Bipolar disorder has an average age of onset of 18 years old for Type 1 and 20 years old for Type 2. Bipolar disorder can also run in families through genetics. However, it is important to note that not everyone with a daily history of bipolar disorder will develop the condition.1

Bipolar disorder affects individuals of all ethnicities and ages. However, studies have found some differences in the prevalence of bipolar disorder based on certain demographic factors.


Bipolar disorder typically develops in late adolescence or early adulthood, with an average age onset of 25 years old.2
The condition will also affect approximately 4.4% of adults in the United States at some point during their lifetime. Bipolar disorder in teens and children is much harder to navigate due to its general late onset. Some studies suggest that bipolar disorder may be underdiagnosed in children and adolescents.3


Bipolar disorder affects both men and women at equal rates. However, women are more likely to experience rapid cycling (four or more mood episodes in a year). Women are also more prone to mixed episodes where symptoms of mania and depression co-occur.


Studies suggest that the condition may be more prevalent in certain populations. A study found that the lifetime prevalence of bipolar disorder was highest amongst Native Americans while being lower among Asians, Blacks, and Hispanics.4

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder in Teens

The symptoms of bipolar disorder in teens can be challenging to diagnose, as they may be mistaken for normal adolescent mood swings. Here are some common signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder in teens:

Manic Episode Symptoms

Some manic symptoms of bipolar disorder in teens may include:
  • Increased energy and activity levels
  • Racing thoughts or rapid speech
  • Increased sexual behavior
  • Extreme irritability or agitation
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Difficulty concentrating or completing tasks
  • Elevated or grandiose mood
  • Impulsivity, risk-taking behavior
  • Delusions or hallucinations (in severe cases)

Depressive Episode Symptoms

On the other hand, some depressive symptoms may include:
  • Social withdrawal
  • Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • Changes in appetite, weight, or sleep patterns
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
Make sure you pay attention to your child’s behavior to see if they exhibit any of these signs.

The Impact of Bipolar Disorder in Teens

Bipolar disorder in teens can have a significant impact on their lives. It can be challenging during adolescence when teens are experiencing numerous changes, both physically and emotionally. The unpredictable mood swings associated with bipolar disorder can also make it difficult for teens to develop and maintain healthy relationships with their peers. This may lead to feelings of isolation and depression.
Symptoms of bipolar disorder can also affect academic performance, making it challenging to focus or attend school regularly.

Vulnerability & Susceptibility to Harm

Teens with bipolar disorder may act impulsively, which can lead to risky behavior such as drug use and hurting themselves. Their moods can change a lot and be hard to predict, making it tough for them to handle their emotions. When they feel sad and hopeless, they might hurt themselves or even consider suicide. Teens with bipolar disorder are more likely to develop other mental health problems as well, such as anxiety or eating disorders.

Diagnosing and Treating Bipolar Disorder in Teens

It’s challenging to know if a teenager has bipolar disorder because the symptoms can look like other mental health issues, like depression or anxiety. That’s why our team at Advaita Integrated Medicine conducts a comprehensive diagnostic assessment to figure out if a teen has bipolar disorder. We will review your teen’s medical history, conduct physical exams, and other tests before creating a customized plan.

We may also interview your teen and the rest of your family as well. This is to make sure there’s no other medical or hereditary problems causing their symptoms. Getting the right diagnosis is really important so that the teenager can get the right treatment to manage their symptoms.

Treatment Options for Bipolar Disorder in Teens

The treatment options for bipolar disorder in teens typically involve a combination of medication therapy and lifestyle changes. The specific treatment plan for each teen will depend on the severity and type of symptoms they are experiencing and any other medical or mental health conditions they may have. Available bipolar disorder treatment methods at Advaita Integrated Medicine include:


Medication is often used to help stabilize mood and manage symptoms of mania and depression. Mood stabilizers are often used to help reduce the risk of manic episodes. Antidepressants can help manage symptoms of depression when used with mood stabilizers. However, they must be used carefully to avoid causing manic episodes. The psychiatrists at Advaita Integrated Medicine will work with each patient to find the best medication plan and watch for any side effects.


Talk therapy is an essential part of treating bipolar disorder in teens. Advaita Integrated Medicine offers individual therapy sessions with licensed therapists who specialize in working with bipolar disorder. Types of psychotherapy treatment options available at Advaita Integrated Medicine include:
  • CBT: Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a common form of psychotherapy used to help teens develop coping strategies. CBT can help teens identify risks that may cause mood episodes and teach them how to manage their symptoms. 
  • Family  therapy: Family therapy is an important part of treatment for bipolar disorder in teens, as family members can play a significant role in supporting their loved one’s recovery. Advaita Integrated Medicine’s family therapy sessions involve the patient’s family members and focus on improving communication and relationship skills. 
Bipolar Disorder in Teens

Support & Resources Available for Bipolar Disorder in Teens

Advaita Integrated Medicine provides support and resources for teens with bipolar disorder and their families. Here are some of the resources available:

Clinical Support

Our team of mental health professionals is available to provide clinical support to patients and families. This includes medication management and therapy services.

Family Education

Advaita Integrated Medicine provides family education and support services to help families better understand bipolar disorder in teens and how to support their loved ones. This includes educational workshops, support groups, and family therapy sessions.

Online Resources

Advaita Integrated Medicine provides various online resources for patients and families, including educational materials, self-help tools, and information about bipolar disorder and treatment options.

Continue Learning About Bipolar Disorder in Teens at Advaita Integrated Medicine

Bipolar disorder can cause significant disruptions in a person’s mood, behavior, and daily functioning. With the right treatment and support, individuals with bipolar disorder can learn to manage their symptoms and reduce their risk of relapse. Contact our knowledgeable Advaita Integrated Medicine staff to learn more about the resources available and how we can help you or your loved one live fulfilling lives.

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Reach out to Advaita Integrated Medicine today and let us guide you toward a full and rewarding life uninhibited by mental health or substance use disorder challenges. We are here to support you every step of the way.
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