Treating Bipolar Disorder I & II in Youth

Bipolar disorder is a mental health disorder which causes youth and adolescents to experience extreme behavioral changes and mood swings. It can occur in children and adolescents at any age but is most often diagnosed in adolescence.[1] Bipolar disorder (previously called manic depressive disorder) is a complex disorder which requires a thorough medical and psychological evaluation and treatment.

The path to wellness for youth who suffer from Bipolar disorder begins at Innercept Residential Mental Health Treatment Center. Our professional and caring clinicians at Innercept use specialized training and individual treatment programs to stabilize and treat patients with bipolar disorder. Our highly-qualified team is experienced in diagnosing even the most severe and complex cases, including those who have failed at treatment before.

Mood changes in adolescents and youth who have bipolar disorder are extreme, unprovoked and include changes in sleep, energy level and irritability.[2] This mental health disorder can limit day-to day functioning in teens and youth unless they find treatment. Difficulties in school or getting along with peers and family members are common for those suffering from bipolar disorder. Children with a family member who has bipolar disorder are five times more likely to get it get it when a relative has it. [3]

Some of the symptoms of a manic episode may include:

  • Intense emotions and mood changes
  • Hyperactivity and agitation
  • Irritability, restlessness or a short temper
  • Talking rapidly about multiple topics
  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty staying focused and having racing thoughts
  • Risky and impulsive behavior
  • Grandiose thinking and poor judgment
  • Hypersexuality
  • Spending sprees

Symptoms that may be part of a depressive episode include:

  • Frequent and unprovoked sadness or crying
  • Increased irritability, anger or hostility
  • A noticeable increase in amount of sleep
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering things
  • Emotional instability
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
  • Sensitivity to rejection or failure
  • A history of trauma, stress or major life changes
  • Difficulty maintaining relationships and communicating
  • Having no interest in activities or low energy
  • Complaining about pain, such as stomach aches or headaches

Symptoms that may present in either manic or depressive episodes:

  • Family history of bipolar disorder
  • Activities that cause injury or harm
  • Thoughts of running away
  • Thoughts of death and/or suicide
  • Frequent mood changes
  • An increased risk for delinquent behavior and incarceration
  • Severe aggressive behavior
  • Mixed episodes – both manic and depressive or alternating episodes
  • Additional mental health disorders like anxiety, major depression ADHD, ODD, or Disruptive mood regulation disorder
  • Eating and sleeping disorders
  • Changes in baseline behavior

Differences between Bipolar I and Bipolar II disorder

Bipolar I disorder includes episodes of severe mania lasting at least seven days and depressive episodes lasting at least two weeks. Episodes with mixed features are possible. Bipolar II disorder involves a less severe pattern of depressive episodes and mania called hypomania. A third type of Bipolar disorder is called Cyclothymic disorder which has periods of hypomanic symptoms as well as periods of depressive symptoms.[4]

Causes of Bipolar Disorder

The cause of Bipolar disorder is unknown, but researchers are uncovering genetic similarities in family members who have bipolar disorder. No single gene causes it.[5]

Differences in neurotransmitters, brain structure and function exist between adolescents who have bipolar disorder and those who do not have it. Bipolar disorder can last a lifetime and can be triggered by positive or negative stress which is why it is important to receive treatment.

Treatment for Bipolar Disorder

Early, steady and dependable treatment is important to prevent serious consequences and to decrease the impact of mental health problems as your adolescent grows.[6]

Starting with an in-depth patient assessment, our treatment team at Innercept, determines the level of mental health challenges in the patient that need to be addressed. Next, they make recommendations for specialized, individual treatment to ensure a successful path in each program. Building trust with each patient and their family is a priority for our therapists.

During treatment, we use evidence-based modalities at Innercept, to create a “soft-landing” environment. We provide a goal-oriented treatment plan in our young-adult intensive program teaching coping and critical life skills needed to survive. Under the compassionate 24-hour care of our staff, we help adolescents learn effective ways of resolving conflict and stress. Our small program size ensures we provide the highest level of attention and care to each of our patients during their treatment.

At Innercept Residential Mental Health Treatment Center, we offer specialized, comprehensive treatment for even the most complex diagnosis and stubborn symptoms, which includes treatment for patients who have previously failed. Our young adult stabilization environment gives extra support to newly-admitted individuals who come from psychiatric hospital settings and who may be experiencing a personal crises. The setting of our young adult stabilization environment is geographically distant from our other Innercept locations.

At Innercept, we use a variety of therapeutic techniques including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), family-focused therapy and individual therapy, to provide guidance and support to youth and their families. Our skilled therapists help adolescents learn to mitigate the severity of stressful events, maintain routines and enhance emotional regulation which along with prescribed medications, assist them to manage their bipolar disorder. Medications we treat bipolar disorder with include anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, anticonvulsants and antipsychotics.

Strategies to cope with stress and conflict are taught by our highly-trained Innercept therapists who encourage honest dialogue in family therapy sessions, where each member feels heard and respected. Weekly family-focused therapy helps reset the family dynamic and maintain overall mental health. This approach promotes authentic healing and growth to change patterns of unhealthy behavior. At Innercept, both residents and family members are included in the process, before and after treatment. Progress reports are shared with parents on each adolescent’s progress.

After treatment, we offer a supportive independent living model, in our Ingage Program. Residents have the freedom to flourish on their own while being given full access to any level of support they need, when they need it. This program can include medication management, individual and family therapy, group therapy, life skills, vocational support, mentoring, social activities, and other supportive services.

At Innercept Mental Health Treatment Center, we empower patients on their wellness journey, and help them learn to manage bipolar symptoms and heal so they can live more healthy, productive, meaningful lives.


[1] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bipolar-disorder/expert-answers/bipolar-disorder-in-children/faq-20058227

[2] https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/bipolar-disorder-in-children-and-teens#part_6183

[3] https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/14669-bipolar-disorder-in-children

[4] https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder

[5] https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/bipolar-disorder-in-children-and-teens

[6] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bipolar-disorder/expert-answers/bipolar-disorder-in-children/faq-20058227

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