When ADHD Turns Into Bipolar

Johnny sat with his head in his hands. Tears poured down his cheeks. Only twelve years old, he needed alone time where no one watched his emotional breakdown. I listened and watched through a window in the door. A gaping hole in the wall left evidence of Johnny’s intense overreaction only a moment before.

I quietly entered the room as I saw him breathing deeply. “Is there anything I can do to help you?” I asked.

Johnny said, “You can put me out of my misery.”

crying face

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“Can you remember what happened that caused you to feel so angry?” I said.

“No,” Johnny said, “I don’t know what happened. I’m just being honest. Am I crazy?”

“Since you’ve been honest with me, I’m going to tell you something that is more adult,” I said.  “I believe your brain is sending the wrong chemicals and hormones through your body. I suspect you were born with a brain that just works differently.”

Later that day, I had a frank conversation with his parents about visiting Johnny’s pediatrician. I shared that some children with a diagnosis of ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) may require a change to their medication when they approach puberty. In this case, I suspected Johnny developed Bipolar Disorder which requires different prescription medication and therapy from a mental health professional. It is easy to misdiagnose a young person with ADHD because the symptoms to Bipolar and ADHD are virtually the same.

However similar, Bipolar morphs when adolescence propels through a young person.

Once Johnny met with a pediatrician who specialized in behavioral therapies, his life turned into a world he could manage. It also helped his parents understand how to work with him.

If you are wondering about a loved one’s mental health, try visiting the following links about Bipolar.  ADHD and Bipolar in Children

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