Frequently Asked Questions
* What are the special challenges of raising a child with bipolar disorder?
Raising a child with bipolar disorder can be physically, emotionally, and financially draining. Your child's quickly
changing and difficult moods may make you feel as if you are walking on eggshells and parenting an ever changing
target. It can also be challenging to recognize the more subtle ways that bipolar disorder affects your child. Dealing
with well meaning people who don't understand bipolar disorder can also be a source of challenge and frustration.
* How does my child's stability level affect parenting?
Your parenting must meet your child's health needs. During times of extreme instability, the most important thing is the
safety of your child and all in the family. This is a time when stress needs to be reduced on all fronts, both at school
and home. As your child achieves a certain amount of wellness, your parenting may need to shift in order to help your
child in the areas of emotional growth that were missed during times of instability. It is also important as your child
stabilizes to identify any additional roadblocks, such as learning disabilities, as these can co-exist with bipolar.
* What if I'm concerned about misdiagnosis?
It is important to have a correct diagnosis. Misdiagnosis can be harmful, as it either ignores an important health
condition or identifies it incorrectly, leading to improper treatment. Parents must become educated advocates for
their child. Learn about bipolar disorder yourself. Also learn what other conditions can mimic the symptoms of bipolar
disorder and make sure these are ruled out. Referring to the treatment guidelines in the link below will help you with
this. Also find a qualified doctor who does a thorough evaluation. Seek a second or even third opinion when
* What if I have very negative feelings about my child?
Because bipolar disorder is a chronic illness, it continually effects family life and taxes your parenting abilities.
Parents sometimes experience caregiver burnout, compassion fatigue, or secondary trauma as a result of their
child's illness. This can happen especially after a child has been unstable for an extended period of time. Parents
who begin to feel num, or very negative toward their child with bipolar disorder, may be at this stage. In order to take
care of your child with bipolar disorder, you must also take care of yourself. Make your own appointment with the
* Do I have reason to hope for my child's future?
Children with bipolar disorder can go on to live very full and happy lives. Many of them are creative, gifted and
talented individuals. Helping them find their talents and value their positive qualities can help them to lead enriched
lives. There are now FDA approved medications for children with bipolar disorder, and new treatments are
continually being researched to help people with bipolar disorder.
* Where can I get more help to parent my child?
To get more information on parenting your child with bipolar disorder effectively, click the "books" link above. The
Childhood Bipolar Disorder Answer Book can help you as you continue on this difficult parenting journey. Also
make sure to surround yourself with supportive people. Look for a local support group through the National Alliance
on Mental Illness (www.nami.org) or Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (www.dbsalliance.org). You can also
find an online support group at The Child & Adolescent Bipolar Foundation (www.bpkids.org). Also please read the
articles found below and check out the list of support organizations at the bottom of this page.
The Balanced Mind Foundation
(Formerly Known as The Child &
Adolescent Bipolar Foundation)
820 Davis St., Ste. 520
Evanston, IL 60201
The Collaborative Problem
313 Washington St., Suite 402
Newton Corner, MA 02458
Depressive and Bipolar
730 N Franklin St., Suite 501
Chicago, IL 60610-7224
Federation of Families for Children's
9605 Medical Center Dr., Suite 280
Rockville, MD 20850
International Society for
P.O. Box 7168
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-0168
Juvenile Bipolar Research
550 Ridgewood Rd.
Maplewood, NJ 07040
The National Alliance on
Colonial Place Three
2107 Wilson Blvd., Suite 300
Arlington, VA 22201-3042
National Institute of
6001 Executive Blvd., Room
8184, MSC 9663
Bethesda, MD 20892-9663
National Mental Health
2001 N Beauregard St., 12th Floor
Alexandria, VA 22311