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Bipolar Teen Son, ........

Question:

Background,

My son was diagnosed with ADHD since age 5. Last December, then 14, his girlfriend dumped him and he had meltdown at school. I picked him up, and immediately took to our family doctor. He mentioned suicide, and was then admitted to the hospital for evaluation. They diagnosed as having bipolar disorder.

Now he is 15. Since then, he has been taken off ADHD meds and put on Lithium, Lamotrigine and Zyprexa. 

He is now a completely different person. He no longer does homework and has no drive. He is flunking out of school and is even getting in trouble in school. He says “he enjoys acting out..it feels good.”

Is this normal? Do you think he may not be bipolar and misdiagnosed? He is also very immature. He is 15 but acts like a small child. He jumps up and down when he is excited, talks loud and does otherstuff not age appropriate. Is a second opinion needed??

I know he is also going through puberty…but gee. CK

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Answer:

Do you remember the story of the duck? “If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and waddles like a duck…….then, it’s a duck.” In other words, it seems to me that the behaviors you are describing, from not doing his homework, getting into trouble in school and jumping around when he is excited, are all typical of ADHD. Having said that, let me explain more.

ADHD and Bipolar often look very similar and that is what makes diagnosis very difficult. Not only do symptoms do overlap but the two disorders can even exist at the same time. I have no way of knowing whether you son has one, the other or both of these disorders. This is important because it has a direct impact on the medications of choice and the dosages that are prescribed.

You need to do one of two things to help this young man. If he is being seen by a pyschiatrist who is regulating his medications then he needs to know all the behaviors he is exhibiting. If he does not have a psychiatrist and the family doctor is writing the prescriptions, then, you must definitely have the boy seen by a psychiatrist who needs to be apprised of the entire history.

In my opinion, your son is not being immature but is acting like a young man with ADHD. This does not mean that he does not have symptoms of bipolar. He really does need an accurate diagnosis and treatment.

I don’t want to alarm you but I feel a need to inform you that you need to act quickly because youngsters with these types of problems can end up hanging out with the wrong crowd, the type of crowd that uses illicit drugs and etc. Plus, he needs to be able to focus on school.

So, get that opinion, accurate diagnosis and treatment, and that may also include psychotherapy.

Good luck to both of you.

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