There are roughly 1 million cases of bipolar disorder in children in the U.S. alone. Is your child one of them? We’d like to offer you some natural solutions for you to experiment with that helped for us (don’t stop any medications without the consent of your doctor). Rather, give these safe, natural methods a try ALONGSIDE any medications your child may be on. You may easily find that their depression will lift considerably and their happy times will increase.
We have found that bipolar disorder in children is due in a large part to environment – the things around them but in also what they eat. Nutrition plays a key role in a child’s behaviour. Here are a few things that helped us with our own children. We hope they could be an answer for you too. (We also provide our sources of our medical research on bipolar disorder in children if you are interested in investigating this further).
Okay, are you ready? You may not like some of these things we did for our kids but our children’s health was the most important to us. You may even hate some of them. Well, take it or leave it. But, please consider your child’s health first!
1. Get rid of the TV and video games.
What? You may gasp, but the amount of stuff that kids see these days only damages their development of proper thinking such as assessing reality, problem solving, etc. We are convinced that bipolar disorder in children can be aggravated by TV and video game images. You most likely heard about this study already on TV affecting a child’s sleep functioning. (See Source List) Your child could be one of them. Once we got rid of these things, yes, we got objections, but a few days later the kids were playing in the backyard throwing a ball around – laughing! What a concept! This makes for happier parents too!
(Plus, my relationship with my spouse got better too – we stopped watching the sitcoms and reality TV shows and actually lived our own lives. We even talked to each other more – yikes!)Depression isn't welcome when laughter and loving community is present.
Just look at the research on how stress impairs ones thinking. (See Source List) If we add stress in our kids’ lives by things seen on TV and in video games, it makes sense that bipolar disorder in children can be aggravated, doesn’t it? Bipolar disorder in children has many similarities as ADD/ADHD by the way.
If you can’t eliminate TV and video games completely, then maximize their time to an hour a day. Then instead, teach them the importance of doing good things for others and focus on that by verbally praising them. Help them do their homework and chores. Show them what is important to enjoy life – hard work and loving others instead of seeking to be entertained.
You will also be surprised how much their depression is lifted when they are given responsibilities. Please note that encouraging responsibility in the home for helping with chores is much easier if implemented sooner rather than later in the teen years. Young toddlers love to help and we parents often tell them to let mommy or daddy do it so there won't be a mess. That's such a missed opportunity!
2. Give your kids Omega 3 Supplements.
By now, you should be aware of the damage of our modern diet and the lack of Omega 3s. Biplar disorder in children is another result of this. If not, you will enjoy our article on Dr. Andrew Stoll curing bipolar patients with Omega 3s. Fabulous happy endings! (See link at the bottom of this page: 'A Bipolar Disorder Success Story Or Two Or Three Or Four Or More…')
There is also emerging evidence that low levels of omega-3 acids are associated with hyperactivity in children. (See Sources noted below.) Bipolar disorder in children can be effectively handled with a quality Omega 3 Supplement. Beware that fish can be contaminated with mercury (http://www.ewg.org/issues/mercury/index.php) so; finding your child a quality Omega 3 Fish Supplement is an excellent strategy. Read our free article listed at the bottom entitled: ‘Omega 3 Supplements - What to Look For!.
“Jamie was a ten-year-old boy who seemed to struggle with behavioral problems almost from the beginning. He was inattentive, aggressive, and had difficulty with coordination. Sports were hard for him and learning was no better... Jamie also had patches of dry skin and coarse, unruly hair -- clues to fatty acid imbalance.
Jamie began taking a balanced fatty acid supplement that contained DHA, GLA, and ALA from DHA oil, primrose oil, and flax seed oil respectively. It took roughly six months, but Jamie became "a different child" according to his mother. His balance and motor problems improved along with his behavioral problems."
- Excerpted from "Struggling With Jamie" from the book "Smart Fats" by Michael Schmidt, Publisher: North Atlantic Books (September 1997), ISBN: 1883319625
3. Feed your kids natural foods first.
Like we said before, bipolar disorder in children is also affected by their diet. Instead of going for a quick fix meal with tons of preservatives, aim for natural meals. There is so much sugar and salt and other damaging ingredients in our foods today that we are damaging our bodies. (If you owned a Porsche, would you give it recycled oil or the best of the best? Same with our bodies – they are fabulous machines that won’t purr if we feed them junk.)
Several studies have reported that over 80 percent of children in cases of bipolar disorder in children meet full criteria for ADHD. You will appreciate reading the report listed on the bottom of this page on how ADHD is affected by a children’s diet. Bipolar disorder in children can easily be the same. The jury is still officially out but we’ve noticed the results in our own kids. Once changing their diets, we started noticing less periods of depression.
4. Exercise with your kids!
Exercise is a hugely successful treatment for bipolar disorder in children; not just depression in adults. The British Journal of Sports Medicine published results that 30 minutes a day of exercise was a more effective method of fighting depression than drugs. (See Source Links) It’s also important to teach your kids the importance of exercise for all aspects of health. Take them for a hike, a bike ride, play a game of Badminton with them or 1 on 1 Basketball. Whatever it is, your child will love the fun and you’ll love a happier child and a happier you too! ;)
5. Get your kids into doing something creatively.
So many famous artists in history suffered from bipolar disorder and so many sufferer today. We are convinced it is because they have a driving force within them that must be properly guided and allowed to get out in order for them to live joyful lives. Give your kid some paints, enrol them in an art class. (“My mom did this for me when I was a kid. So, when a major bout of depression came up years later in my life, I went back to my paints and got a meaningful therapy through the process and the final result!” – Your friendly editor of this website.)
Creativity is a therapeutic way of expressing one’s emotions and the majority of major depression is caused because emotions have not been properly and carefully expressed. Bipolar disorder in children could very well be a result of underexpressed and undernourished creativity. (Note: No scientific evidence is our basis here - just opinion and personal experience.)
6. Ask your kids emotional questions.
I’m not talking about questions that will bring them to tears. I’m talking about when your child says he’s mad. Instead of punishing him for expressing his emotions, ask him why he’s mad. Then, listen! Your child needs to feel safety in expressing his emotions with his parents. Bipolar disorder in children can be a symptom of suppressed emotions as we said earlier. (Read an excellent book called, “How to Really Love Your Child” by D. Ross Campbell, M.D.)
7. Ask your child what happened in his day.
Have fun listening to his stories. Be interested in his life happenings. Your child desperately wants you to be apart of his life. Show him that he is a special gift by taking an interest in his life. Bipolar disorder in children can be practically handled by getting your child to express himself in his daily stories. (Again goes with the expressing emotions healthily habit.)
8. When you discipline your child, use love as the guide.
A child needs - no craves - boundaries. He wants to know the limits and that is why he pushes them. Show them where they are but lovingly. Dr. James Dobson’s book “The New Dare to Discipline” is an excellent example. “Super Nanny” by Super Nanny Jo Frost is also an excellent book for the first stages of kids. (Just look at the issues she dealt with on her show!) It is our personal experience on this one that causes us to believe that bipolar disorder in children is effectively handled when the emotion of all emotions - love - is the basis for all we do with our kids as parents.
9. Find a great counsellor for your child.
Bipolar disorder in children can be caused by traumatic events – events that your child may find difficult to speak with you about. Don’t feel helpless and don’t insist on wanting to be the one your child talks to. The important thing is that they can share with someone. Events such as the early loss of a parent, parental depression, incest, or abuse can cause bipolar disorder in children. You may want to have your child’s school guidance counsellor meet with him or recommend someone else for your child. Just make the call.
It’s also important for you to talk to someone; either a counsellor, a parent bipolar disorder support group, a church pastor… someone who you can share with too. After all, you need support through this time too. Bipolar disorder in children can cause parents to break down mentally too. You’ll want to read more about support groups in our article listed below entitled 'Bid Loneliness and Isolation Farewell with Depression Group Support'.
Those are just a few of the practices we did to help our kids at home. Why don’t you give them a try? Bookmark this page on 'bipolar disorder in children' and seriously put these suggestions into practice and monitor the results. We hope they can help your child too! Tell us about your results!
Here are some fabulous helpful resources we recommend…
These books aren’t directly on bipolar disorder in children but they are fabulous books on parenting your kids no matter what they may struggle with. Take a look at the titles and you will be intrigued to read them…
Perfect Parenting : The Dictionary of 1,000 Parenting Tips – Elizabeth Pantley
Kid Cooperation : How to Stop Yelling, Nagging & Pleading and Get Kids to Cooperate – Elizabeth Pantley
Hidden Messages: What Our Words and Actions Are Really Telling Our Children – Elizabeth Pantley
The Successful Child: What Parents Can Do To Help Their Kids Turn Out Well by Dr. William and Martha Sears with Elizabeth Pantley
A Bipolar Disorder Success Story Or Two Or Three Or Four Or More…
The Benefits of Omega 3 Fish Oil
6 Powerful Ingredients to Cure Your Depression
Fish oil 'calms children better than Ritalin' - UK News Report
Children's diet link to disorders - Society Guardian Report
Back to Home from Bipolar Disorder in Children
Pallarito, Karen / Can TV Disrupt Toddler's Sleep? / . (accessed June 21, 2006 )
Children's Sleep Habits / . (accessed June 21, 2006 )
Hecht, Frederick, M.D. / Attention Problems Due to TV Before 3 / . (accessed June 21, 2006 )
TV habits linked to attention problems / . (accessed June 21, 2006 )
Attention Deficit Disorder and TV / Dr. Dimitri Christakis, *Associate professor, Department of Pediatrics *Co-Director, Child Health Institute, Children's Hospital & Regional Medical Center / . (listen to the interview) (accessed June 21, 2006 )
US Dept of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health / Stress Impairs Thinking via Mania-Linked Enzyme / . (accessed June 21, 2006 )
Dimeo, F. / Benefits from aerobic exercise in patients with major depression: a pilot study / British Journal of Sports Medicine / . (accessed June 21, 2006 )
Salt – The Forgotten Killer / Center for Science In the Public Interest / . (accessed June 21, 2006 )
Diet, ADHD & Behavior / Center for Science In the Public Interest / . (accessed June 21, 2006 )
ADHD Report & Parent Guide / Center for Science In the Public Interest / . (accessed June 21, 2006 )
Liquid Candy – How Soft Drinks Are Harming American’s Health / Center for Science In the Public Interest / . (accessed June 21, 2006 )
Pestering Parents: How Food Companies Market Obesity to Children / Center for Science In the Public Interest /
Simopoulos, Artemis. Omega-3 fatty acids in health and disease and in growth and development. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 54, 1991, pp. 438-63
Uauy-Dagach, Ricardo and Valenzuela, Alfonso. Marine oils: the health benefits of n-3 fatty acids. Nutrition Reviews, Vol. 54, November 1996, pp. S102-S108
Levine, Barbara S. Most frequently asked questions about DHA. Nutrition Today, Vol. 32, November/December 1997, pp. 248-49
Kalmijn, S., et al. Polyunsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants, and cognitive function in very old men. American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 145, January 1, 1997 , pp. 33-41
Kalmijn, S., et al. Dietary fat intake and the risk of incident dementia in the Rotterdam Study. Annals of Neurology, Vol. 42(5), November 1997, pp. 776-82
Yehuda, S., et al. Essential fatty acids preparation (SR-3) improves Alzheimer's patients quality of life. International Journal of Neuroscience, Vol. 87(3-4), November 1996, pp. 141-9
Edwards, R., et al. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid levels in the diet and in red blood cell membranes of depressed patients. Journal of Affective Disorders, Vol. 48, March 1998, pp. 149-55
Hibbeln, Joseph R. Fish consumption and major depression. The Lancet, Vol. 351, April 18, 1998 , p. 1213 (correspondence)
Hibbeln, Joseph R. and Salem , Norman . Dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids and depression: when cholesterol does not satisfy. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 62, July 1995, pp. 1-9
Stoll, Andrew L., et al. Omega 3 fatty acids in bipolar disorder. Archives of General Psychiatry, Vol. 56, May 1999, pp. 407-12 and pp. 415-16 (commentary)
Calabrese, Joseph R., et al. Fish oils and bipolar disorder. Archives of General Psychiatry, Vol. 56, May 1999, pp. 413-14 (commentary)
Carlson, S.E., et al. Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and development of human infants. Acta Paediatr Suppl, Vol. 88 (430), August 1999, pp. 72-7
Mitchell, E.A., et al. Clinical characteristics and serum essential fatty acid levels in hyperactive children. Clin Pediatr (Phila), Vol. 26, August 1987, pp. 406-11
Stevens, Laura J., et al. Essential fatty acid metabolism in boys with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 62, No. 4, October 1995, pp. 761-68
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