Free The Case Of A Child Experiencing Bipolar Disorder Essay Sample

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Disorders, Psychology, Health, Bipolar Disorder, Children, Anxiety, Age, Development

Pages: 8

Words: 2200

Published: 2020/12/17

Childhood is a period of intellectual development, and it is not unusual for them to experience psychological problems and disorders by the time they reach adolescence. In fact, about 30% of youths nowadays are more likely to undergo psychological disorder once they reach the age of 16 (Weis, 2014, p.3). The most of common of these are anxiety disorders, such as phobias and separation anxiety, including Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), as well as complications in conduct like oppositional and aggressive behaviors. This is usually complex, since psychological disorders can largely affect the children’s quality of life, and it can affect their wellbeing once they enter the period of adolescence.
When it comes to Bipolar Disorder, this is a state of mental disability, wherein there is pure mania alternating with manic depression, which tend to affect both physical and mental processes of the system. In Bipolar Disorder, there are abrupt changes in happiness and sadness, producing a variety of emotions like anger, anxiety, ecstasy, fear, avoidance, boldness, idealization, bravery, jealousy, panic, irritability, shyness, or resentment. Because of this abrupt change in the emotion, the child usually finds it difficult to sleep at night, to wake up, or to eat normally with other people. It also makes it difficult to maintain normal body weight, apart from the fact that the child experiences poor judgment, obsessive thoughts and/or behaviors, impulsivity, poor motivation, and the act of procrastination. A bipolar child is more likely to experience stress, even at an early age when the child experiences disappointments and frustrations, which may lead to a state of manic depression.

The case of a child with bipolar disorder

The son of author, Trudy Carlson, was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder starting at an early age. His name was “Ben”, and his father experienced a “chaos of financial instability” (Carlson, 2014, p.4), experiencing changes both in residences and in schools, and therefore had changes in peers and social environment. This father of Ben named “Gary” was the son of a man who had had manic depressive illness—undiagnosed and untreated because of lack of financial support, plus the fact that they were oblivious. For this, Gary was more serious in seeking treatment for Ben, once the latter began showing symptoms, even at an early age.
Ben had had the Bipolar II illness, which is less recognized than the Bipolar I illness. In Bipolar II, there is hypo mania, which is frequently missed, although patients with this illness experience a most painful effect, which is worse than other depressive conditions. Although they are not hospitalized, it remains to be a serious disease, mainly because the nervous system tend to change the brain function of the patient, and there tends to be an imbalance in the brain chemicals. With this, Ben has experienced inappropriate emotions and thoughts, even during the days of his childhood. It only became noticeable when there were signs of poor school performance on the child, poor attention, and some behavioral problems that differentiated Ben from the other students of his age. He usually experienced abrupt changes in his emotions, jumping from ecstasy to sadness, with impulsivity and poor judgment to worsen his condition. What was difficult with Ben, however, was that he found it difficult to get past his frustrations and this feeling of uncertainty, and he kept thinking about the incidents, even when he laid down in bed to sleep at night. There was increased vulnerability to depression, which he found it difficult to face at his early age.
The case of Ben centers on Bipolar II, wherein the child experiences hypo mania, which may not be noticeable and which can worsen the condition if not being treated. He experienced intense difficulty in eating and sleeping, and was found to be prone to accidents during his childhood days. There was high activity level, yet had difficulties in trying to mingle with his peers and so, tend to affect his case of self-esteem. More so, there was the inability to concentrate, even in speech, as there was cognitive looseness worsened by oppositional defiance and motivational issues. Ben was always angry and irritable over the years, and they were starting to be disheartened by the fact that the boy was starting to feel depressed—saddened because he always had had problems with school and the society. By this, there was a need to advocate the boy to a program that would improve his skills and his state of self-confidence, to prevent anxiety, fear, anger, and restlessness from taking place. This turned out to be crucial, especially since the boy started to show signs of experiencing anxiety disorder and ADHD symptoms. He started to show signs of significant distress, in which he had difficulty in mingling with the social public, such as in school and the surrounding neighborhood. It appeared that he was not comfortable with himself and his surroundings, and he seemed to be unable to find the right place that would give him peace and comfort, for him to create developmental pathways that should benefit his wellbeing.
He was in his eighth grade when things started to get worse. There were complications with his psychiatric disorders, and what was once Bipolar Disorder turned to be a series of complications of other disorders or illnesses. Ben already had anxiety disorder and ADHD, and this was very critical, especially for adolescent patients, who were experiencing complex changes with their personality, beliefs, norms, and state of mind. What was once treated by health medications turned out to be ineffective. Medicines and treatments were already negligible, unable to treat the complex Bipolar Disorder of Ben. This went on, until such time when the boy was not able to take it anymore. He conducted suicide in conjunction to a “stressor” that took place, by the time Ben was not able to take lithium, which should have helped prevent the tragedy from taking place. With the ongoing incidence of depression and the multiplicity of such conditions, the cognitive therapies appeared insignificant, which led to the tragedy and ended up the life of Ben.

Analysis of bipolar disorder

Most of the mental health disorders come during adolescence period, during a time of physical and mental development. Unlike the others, however, bipolar disorder may come during childhood, wherein the symptoms are already defined, and the child seemed to be always in a state of restlessness and agitation. Still, there are different state of risks between girls and boys, and it was proven that “young boys are more likely than young girls to develop most early childhood disorders” (Weis, 2014, p.4). This is proven to be true, especially, when the child’s environment is in a state of flux. It was proven that “youths from socially and economically impoverished families and neighborhoods are at increased risk for developing most psychological disorders” (Weis, 2014, p.4). Yet, in the case of Ben, he did not come from small-income families or those who only had single parents, nor did his parents have low educational achievement. Still, the risk of developing the disorder was huge, since the risk tend to be enormous, as Ben’s grandfather had manic depressive illness during his adolescence, making way for greater vulnerabilities to be passed on to Ben.
The use of prescriptive medications was seen as a protection factor and/or mechanism. Like Ben, about 29% of youths that were referred to health professionals, were prescribed with at least one psychotropic medication (Weis, 2014, p.5). As seen in this case, health medications are usually the custom of treating psychiatric disorders and illnesses, since they are effective as protective barriers against psychiatric illnesses. However, barriers may also appear in the treatment of psychiatric illnesses, against mental health services that should have provided the child with appropriate health treatment. Some of these barriers include financial hardship, unavailability of health services, small number of experts in the field, as well as negative stigma attached to bringing their child on the care of a psychiatrist. It should have provided discontinuity of the illness, but the barriers had caused it to worsen.
In the case of Ben, he did experience abnormality in psychological distress; yet, though he was successfully treated by experts, he still found it difficult to face the anxiety. This is because Ben was in the age of adolescence, and youths in his specific age undergo challenges, in which the tasks are affected primarily by their age and the changes that take place in their physical, mental, emotional, and social structures. At this age, they learn to get along with their peers in school, while they try and maintain close relationships with families and friends. They are also on the verge of planning for their future in higher education, while they start the transition from being dependent of their parents to living independently. Likewise, it is at this age that adolescents form romantic relationships, while they learn to mingle with people who are opposite their age, gender, race, beliefs, and socio-economic status. Robert Weis (2014) tried to describe these stages of life when he stated,
Development is like a building The ground floor might consist of early environment experiences, such as our prenatal surroundings or the conditions of our birth and delivery. Subsequent floors might consist of postnatal experiences, such as our nutrition and health care, the relationships we develop with our parents, the quality of our education, and the friends we make in school. The integrity of the upper levels of our “building” is partially determined by the strength of the lower levels. (Weis, 2014, p.14)
Yet, from what appears in the case of Ben, the physical, cognitive, emotional, and social stages of Ben were all disrupted by the fact that his early experiences and postnatal experiences converged because of the extreme tension and growing fear and anxiety. In his “building”, the ground floor and the subsequent floors were all unsettled because of the instability of his nervous system, which affected how he saw and dealt with life. The integrity of his “upper levels” changed the structure of his building, which then destroyed the foundation and supportive elements that should have sustained this flow of development.

Bipolar in diagnostic categories

The case of Ben under the diagnostic category code, is under 296.40 Bipolar Disorder, Most Recent Episode Hypomanic. However, there were also times when it would fluctuate into 296.41 Bipolar Disorder, Most Recent Episode Manic, Mild; or sometimes it would go under 296.53 Bipolar, Most Recent Episode Depressed, Severe without Psychotic Features (Weis, 2014). In addition, there were likewise cases, especially in the latter period, when his diagnostic category code jumped from Bipolar Disorder to Anxiety Disorder, and then to Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD. At times, his diagnostic category was under Bipolar II Disorder 296.89; and then it would alter to Anxiety Disorder Due to Medical Condition 292.89; and then lastly, it would jump to Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type 314.01 (Weis, 2014).
There are always individual differences taking place between those who are resilient in their state or condition and those who tend to fail in their health condition. These individual differences are generally influenced by many factors, such as the interfaces between familial, psychological, biogenetic, and social factors. There are however, different paths taken, which may lead to similar outcomes. In the case of Ben, he was not able to successfully adapt to this environment or his state or condition, and so he took the path of the developmental trajectories. It is in this light that Ben preferred for the less-than-optimal and maladaptive state or condition (i.e., suicide), as an effect of the unavailability of the protective factors from influencing the intellectual processes being experienced. The risk factors, in the case of Ben, were under the psychological and social-cultural factors, and it prevented him from using the protective factors that should have saved his life.
On the other hand, the fact that there was comorbidity in the state or health condition of Ben makes it possible that there was a certain type of concomitance on what the diagnosis focused on. Because there was more than one mental disorder that had to be treated on Ben, it may reflect that there was a case of incorrectness or error, as the diagnosis should be perfectly initiated on the particular mental disorder that the patient was experiencing. This imprecision in the case of comorbidity is one aspect that had to be treated in psychiatric conventions, although multiple psychiatric diagnosis is possible to obtain. Still, it could have prevented the occurrence of tragedy if there were protective factors, especially in terms of psychological and social-cultural factors. This means having close relationship with a caregiver, good relationships with peers and extended kin, acceptance by peers and the society, and having relationships with adult mentors or coaches. All these would have helped in keeping Ben healthy and mentally strong and active, even in the midst of challenges.


In the book of Elizabeth Wurtzel (1995), there exists a flawless description of the harrowing afflictions that humans experience due to severe depressive illnesses. Within the heights of New York City, this intelligent adolescent experiences the challenges brought by depression or Bipolar Disorder, which affects the manner in which she views life. In the same way that Ben experienced the tragedy brought by Bipolar Disorder, Elizabeth Wurtzel went through the same path of despair, and this she expressed in words. As stated,
And the scariest part is that if you ask anyone in the throes of depression how he got there, to pin down the turning point, he’ll never know. There is a classic moment in The Sun Also Rises when someone asks Mike Campbell how he went bankrupt, and all he can say in response is, “Gradually and then suddenly”. When someone asks how I lost my mind, that is all I can say too. (Wurtzel, 1995, p.22)
This words make it evident that in the case of Bipolar Disorder, patients are usually left on their own, without clear understanding of why all of those are taking place within their lives. They are usually left hopeless and despondent on how things will turn out in the future, or if there is ever going to be a future at all. Life appears to be so dark and gloomy.
This explains why in the case of Ben, he found it difficult to go on with his life, since there appeared to be no clear path for him to take, in which the future will turn out bright and full of hope. As Wurtzel (1995) explained, “Everything’s plastic, we’re all going to die sooner or later, so what does it matter” (p.12). In the life of a bipolar child, the world happens to be a dark and lonely place to live in, as the bipolar child is trapped in the seclusion of a dark, empty world. Suddenly, in just one snap, everything turns out to be all right. Wurtzel (1995) concluded it “It happened just like that” (p.329). A major change takes place from which a miracle starts to bloom that would then change everything. This was what was lacking in the life of Ben and he remained there waiting for that miracle.


Carlson, T. (2000). The life of a bipolar child: what every parent and professional needs to know. Dunlune, Minnesota: Benline Press.
Weis, R. (2014). Abnormal child and adolescent psychology (2nd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publication.
Wurtzel, E. (1995). Prozac nation: Young and depressed in America. London: Quartet Books Ltd.

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