Thursday, April 15, 2010

What Is a Mood Disorder?


At this time, my son’s been diagnosed with a mood disorder, depression and impulsive control disorder. The doctors are using these labels until they figure it out.

As a parent, I’m using support resources for bipolar children since they best describe our life right now. From the moment I read “The Bipolar Child” by Demitri Papolos, I knew I’d found our “home base” since the children in this book seemed to best match our son, so much so, I felt like the book was about our family. This is pretty common since I’ve seen other “mood disorder” families participating on the child bipolar websites for support. Recently our therapist thought that he appeared to be bipolar and the psychiatrist is giving him bipolar meds, but neither want to give a final diagnosis since he is so young and it is so hard to tell what type of mood disorder he has.

So whether his mood disorder is finally diagnosed as Bipolar or Depression, we know that he will need medication, therapy and support either way. If you’re living this and have your own insight you want to share, I’m all ears!

I know that some close to me may be reading this blog and may be wondering what a mood disorder is, so here’s a definition from the Children’s Hospital Boston website:

http://www.childrenshospital.org/az/Site1409/mainpageS1409P0.html

22 comments:

  1. Hello - I just found your blog and went back to the beginning to read each post chronologically. It's amazing to find someone voicing the thoughts in my own head. My daughter has not received a diagnosis, and we're working with a psychologist to help her learning coping skills, but I'm not sure that's enough. Hoping that a switch to an all-natural diet will help (we have confirmed that she cannot tolerate artificial colours, as it causes rage episodes). Thanks for doing this blog!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm so glad you found my blog, please feel free to post any questions, I know this is a tough thing to go through and there are so many unanswered questions, maybe myself or other followers can lend you support if you need it!

    ReplyDelete
  3. My 7(almost 8) year old daughter has symptoms similar to your son. We have been very blessed in her Pyschiatric Care and she was diagnosed very early on in treatment as Bipolar. She is currently taking Depakote which helps well with her mood swings but her impulse control was still horrible until she started on Respridone nightly. She still has her bad days but there not has bad anymore. This is her first school year comming up on the meds so i am interested to see how things go.
    Kay

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Kay,
    I was wondering, on what basis did they determine your daughter was bipolar? I'm glad to hear the Depakote is working, hopeful it will be a good school year.

    ReplyDelete
  5. She was orginally referred to therapy for suspected ADHD. They had given us all these papers to fill out and once we returned the therapist suspected something more. So she gave me another worksheet to fill out and it kinda went from there. This was all at her initial consulatation. The therapist referred us to the pyschologist who made the actual diagnoses of Bipolar. I think it helps that her team of Dr's and therapist believe that Bipolar is present in children. Her main symptoms are mood swings. Before treatment she had days she would not get off the couch, then days she would not sit still. She was jumping off counters, tables ladders, whatever she could find. Some days you can just look into her eyes and just know by the glassy, hazy look its going to be a bad day for her. She would steal things of little or no vaule; pens, pencils.etc. It was almost like she couldn't stop herself she had to do it. Then when she got caught she would go into the she hated herself, she was bad. Noises bother her. Like being in the car and her brother and sister are singing, it will send her into a meltdown. She says it hurts her head. She has packed her clothes to "run away" several times, and has even made it down the road on one ocassion.(pre-meds) The slightest thing would/sometimes still will agitate her and its from 0 to pissed off in 1 second flat. Like her sister will bump her table she'll get angry and bite her. The list goes on and on But her Dr says she has all the symptoms of Bipolar. Sorry for the rambling. LOL Kay

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks Kay, your information is very helpful. I guess it is helpful that the doctors believe that these conditions can exist in kids before there is a diagnosis. We too see the meltdowns over noises, especially his brother lately and the 0 to 1 in a second flat. We haven't seen the depression for a whole day, it's more small moments of depression that comes and goes and the irritability that lasts all day long.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Our Dr says that in kids with Bipolar depression can present itself as irritability. I have enjoyed your reading your blog and look forwarded in going thru your archives.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I've heard that too, but not from our doctors. They just don't think it is possible since only 1% of the population have bipolar, so our doctor said it is “statistically impossible” that he has bipolar and he'll probably outgrow this--I sure hope they are right, but in the meantime, they just upped his meds again since his mood are still unstable.

    Thanks for the positive feedback, I hope to hear from you again!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Oh Dear Mama Bear, my heart aches for you. I have been and am still going through so much of this. I have three beautiful boys - 15 year old twins and a 10 year old, all adopted at birth, all having the same birthmother, all with extreme mood disorders. Their birthmother suffers, too, as does their birthfather. I started this journey 10 years ago when one of my sons first started raging. He went from being sweet (quirky and somewhat sensory defensive) to rapidly cycling every day. Getting help was nearly impossible because he was only 5 and no one would believe that it was him and not my parenting. At 7, I finally landed with a gifted psychiatrist. I, too, had read the Bipolar Child and saw all the signs with my son. My son began taking Lamictal to stabilize the moods and over the years added on an antidepressant. This story goes on and later includes my other two boys having a sudden shift in personality. Here's what I would like to say to you that I learned from that gifted doctor: Do not worry what the label is, don't get caught up in the "is it bipolar?" stuff, just treat the symptoms because a child's brain is growing and changing at such an astronomical pace, it is impossible to know what he will be like in 10 or 20 years. No one can predict that. Now, when I was first told that, I could not imagine that my son was anything other than bipolar. He raged daily, he struggled socially, he became suicidal frequently. It was so very heartbreaking and difficult. We learned about 2 years ago (when he was 13) that he is actually "textbook" Aspergers. I don't even care anymore what it is called, I had let that go thanks to that doctor. My point is that he has changed in so many ways. We got the moods stabilized and he hasn't raged now for 5 years! He spent the last 4 years really struggling socially (in the typical ways Aspies do) but suddenly this year, he is blossoming socially. I could not envision his life being this rich 5 years ago. I had no idea he could have such terrific friends and do so well academically. He still struggles, but he has grown into a compassionate young man and I am very proud of him.

    My advice to you is to trust your gut. If you know he has a mood disorder, find a doctor that will treat that. If you don't fully trust the doctor you are working with, find another. There is a theory in psychiatry called "wicking" which states that the more a child's brain is allowed to cycle, the more the brain is "wicked" or pathways created for future cycling and that is why they need intervention. It is always difficult to give a major psychotropic to a child, but I've seen what you've seen and I believe there is no choice but to help ease their suffering. I am now 10 years into this mental illness portion of my parenting journey and all three of my boys have depression and mood instability of some sort. At present, my son whom we thought was bipolar those many years ago is by far my most stable. The other two don't have "typical" bipolar symptoms, but they suffer from either major depression or rages. Regardless, it is a difficult journey. I am fortunate in that I have a wonderful husband and we can tag team this nightmare. My prayer for you is that you will keep pushing to find doctors to treat your son - quickly - and give him relief, and that you will have hope for the future for him. This does not mean he will suffer this way the rest of his life. I just keep hoping I can get the other two to the same level of happiness as my first son. P.S. The noise sensitivity was one of our biggest triggers. Also, smells and textures in clothing.

    Keep blogging and know that there are those of us who are in this with you.

    Good Luck.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. your response was extremely soothing and helpful . it gave me some hope! i wondered if you could tell me who you used for doctors as i have been trying for years to get a proper diagnosis with no results.

      Delete
    2. Hi Tracy, that's a good question. We’ve had a lot of doctors on board. We have met with a total of 4 psychiatrists over the years and more therapists. We have leaned on the psychiatrists for a diagnosis and fortunate for us that the therapist agree.

      Over the years I have learned and slowly accepted that due to my son’s age (being a child) we won't know for sure what he has until he is an adult. The psychiatrist have determined that at this point it is a mood disorder and possibly bipolar disorder because he is showing symptoms of bipolar disorder. But research has shown that a lot of kids that appear bipolar as a child don't actually grow up to have the disorder, but rather they end up having depression and anxiety.

      Our current psychiatrist and therapist both believe that my son’s symptoms looks like bipolar disorder. His symptoms of cycling moods, rages, visual hallucinations, depression, anxiety, episodes of excessive energy, etc. all fit under this diagnosis, but as he grows, the symptoms may change and we'll know more clearly what we’re dealing with.

      There is still so much controversy in the area of early onset bipolar disorder. It may take many more years before we are clear on what our kids are suffering from. This controversy has led to a new diagnosis name to be used on kids in 2013 so I imagine it will only get more confusing. This new disorder will be called Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder, here is a link to the info about it:
      http://www.dsm5.org/proposedrevisions/pages/proposedrevision.aspx?rid=397

      Delete
  10. Vicki-Thank you so much for your post! It's good to hear stories of kids who use to rage who don't anymore. You mention just treating the symptoms, I think I’m finally moving over into this way of thinking and not searching as hard for a diagnosis. Our pdoc mentioned the same thing you did about their brains changing as they grow and it being impossible to know what will happen in the future. I’ve also heard of the "wicking" you mentioned and agree with you that it’s worth taking meds to avoid bad patterns from being set in.

    I find your story encouraging, I can't imagine handling 3 children going through mood issues, but it seems you’re doing it, very impressive! It is so wonderful to hear about your oldest who is thriving. You must be so proud after all you’ve been through.

    ReplyDelete
  11. my son is a year old and im concerned hes the sweetest baby in the world but when he doesnt get his way or something pisses him off hes got this temper from hell he tries to bite you or scratch you or hits n throws things i suffer from depression so does most everybody on my dads side of the family and my sons dad hhas alot of mmental illness including schizophrenia im so worried y would a one year old get that upset what do you think

    ReplyDelete
  12. That's a good question. My son's moods didn't become a big issue until he was 7 years old, so I don't have any experience with a 1 year old. I do know that there are many reasons a child may be struggling. I've read about food allergies, autism, mood disorders, sleep issues, etc. Many things can be the reason for the behavior. You may want to discuss it with your doctor and in the meantime keep records of the behavior to track any patterns that may become obvious. I hope your little one doesn't have an illness, but if symptoms continue, keep looking for answers and follow your instincts.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I just found this blog a few minutes ago. My husband and I were just sitting here talking about how we have no relationship with our son. It hurts to hear other parents talking about what they do with their sons and ours will barely speak to us. Most of you post about your young children. My son is 30 years old and we have been dealing with these mood swings since he was in elementary school. He is now on his 2nd divorce and has a child. His anger is the reason for both divorces. He is living with us once again and we are still dealing with his depression and anger. It is like he goes into a different world and his rages start. He starts screaming things totally inappropriate for his child to hear and starts threatening to take her and leave. Several times it has gotten to the point we were ready to call the police. After he calms down he falls apart and cries like a child. This has been going on for years. There is no controlling him when these rages start. Several times he has gotten physical with me and his father. We never know when there will be another flare up. He has been treated with several different anti-depressants but none of them really work.
    We are literally at wits end and pray for a miracle.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Anonymous-I'm so glad you found us here, I can't imagine going through all of this alone. Even though your child is older, I can relate to a lot of the anger issues. My son is very violent when he rages and attacks us, physically hurting me. I worry about his future, for the reasons you shared, it is very sad to know your son is still struggling so many years later.

    Have the doctors ever tried a mood stabilizer? I am obviously not a doctor and don't pretend to give advice, but I have heard of people with mood disorders that get worse with anti-depressants if a mood stabilizer isn't also on board. Is your son willing to go back to a psychiatrist? Has he had an evaluation?

    I can't imagine how difficult your situation is with an older child, unlike myself, you can't just take them to the doctor.

    I know for our son, the mood stabilizers have really helped with the rages. After taking Lithium, my son said that he doesn't feel anger inside anymore. Whatever was going on with the chemicals in his brain, the mood stabilizers have helped him tremendously, thus helping our whole family.

    Also, have you considered a support group for other parents with adult children? I have a friend who has a bipolar son that is in his 30's and she found a lot of support in a group.

    I hope you find some help soon, in the meantime, we are here for you.
    Sincerely,
    Mama Bear

    ReplyDelete
  15. He does see a psychiatrist but and I have also met with him and discussed things my son goes through that he won't tell the psychiatrist. I don't want my son to know I have seen his doctor because I know it would end up in a bad scene and he probably would not go back to him. Because of this his doctor can't discuss things I have told him that my son isn't willing to tell him about. I will contact his doctor and suggest a mood stabilizer.

    I have thought several times about finding a support group to join but not sure where to find one.

    Thanks Mama Bear for your support and suggestions. It truly is hard having an adult child you really love living and unfulfilled life.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Anonymous- I can't imagine how hard it must be for you. I'm glad you have contact with his doctor and can suggest the mood stabilizer, it could be a life changer! Feel free to vent hear or ask for support when you need it, you can also reach me privately in the email listed to the right column, it's so important to find support. I'm here for you!

    ReplyDelete
  17. My son is 9 years old.Recently, he has shown signs of lack of interest in previous enjoyable interests,refuses to get dressed to go to school.And now he has become aggressive towards me when told to do almost anything.I need some advice please.I be already tried to seek treatment for him, but he still fights me and refuses to go.What should I do? Help!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's tough trying to get your kid treatment if they refuse to go. However, they can't get help unless they get there. Have you tried taking away all priviledges until he goes to get evaluated? There is a few great books you can get that may give you some help with kids who are defiant. One is called, "Raising winning kids without a fight", this one helped us a lot. The other is, "The Explosive Child". If your child has a chemical imbalance, you'll need to get an evaluation so treatment can begin asap. Kids refuse things for many reasons, sometimes it's to avoid something, sometimes its because they aren't mentally well, whatever the reason, getting to the bottom of it is crucial for getting better.

      Delete
  18. My heart goes out to each of you having a child with a mood disorder. My son at a young age was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, and mood disorder, and recently at age 19, epilepsy. His mood of anger these last two weeks has progressively gotten worse to where he has refused to do any college work, refused to clean up after himself, and directed blame at others daily for his own conduct and poor choices. The struggle with him is DAILY and will sometimes last the entire day. My husband even stated that he dreamt that my son killed me. How very scary to hear him tell me that. I now sleep with my bedroom door locked so that my husband doesn't worry (and my own peace of mind) until he sees his doctor in a few days. My son states he would never hurt me, however, when he is in his rage, it is very difficult to know what harm may come to someone. My youngest was hurt by him last year in his fit of rage as he punched him many times. Thankfully other family members were around to help get my youngest to safety. At this point, I'm not sure what else I can do for him. I know that, if he refuses to help himself, there is little I can do for him and he will need to move out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so sorry to hear about what you are gong through. I know too well the fear you have. I have been there recently, I was terrified and didn't know what to do. We have made an adjustment to his meds after finding our that he outgrew his current dose. There is little us parents can do without involving police when in a rage. And calling the police is scary since they may not be trained to deal with mental illness. Meds and therapy are all we have, but once they are an adult, you can force those. My heart goes out to you. I think locking the door and making sure there are no weapons in the house (we even lock up our cooking knives when his mood is off) is a good start to staying safe. Definitely share your concerns with your doctor.

      Delete