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Anxiety/Depression/Bipolar Children? Options
dangeralert
Posted: Thursday, June 9, 2011 2:32:01 AM
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Location: United States
So my stepson is 4 years old. He's had a pretty rough past with his dad leaving, coming back, and leaving again. Once I came around, he got attached to me real fast, but now seems like he wants nothing to do with me most of the time. I take care of him two days a week (mom is at work and I have those days off) and he'll be perfectly fine. We'll talk, laugh and joke around and he'll act just like a normal kid. But as soon as mom or grandma or grandpa is around, he turns me into the bad guy. He won't want anything to do with me and he'll cry and scream bloody murder if I try to pick him up or play with him or anything. He's attached to his mother's hip and I'm worried it's causing some development issues with him. His mom has said before that he probably has some sort of anxiety due to his father coming and going when he was younger. Personally I think it's strange that he'll go from hot to cold so fast with me...it's confusing and frustrating but I'm hoping it's just a phase he's going through as it's only been happening for around a month now. We were at the beach about a month ago and he got knocked down by a wave and was struggling to get back up. I had to run over to pull him out of the water and he cried to his mom and said that I'm the one who knocked him down. Thankfully she saw it happen and knew I was nowhere near him when the wave hit him, but ever since that I am his scapegoat if he ever gets hurt. He's told his mom and grandparents that I hurt him when the only time I have ever touched him was a spank on the butt when he bit his brother on the leg.

Does anyone have any experience with this type of area? What can I do to help make this better?
Romany
Posted: Thursday, June 9, 2011 5:30:06 AM
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dangeralert,

I've worked for years with troubled children, but I wouldn't dare to give an opinion based on a few lines written on a forum. What I would counsel you to do is to make an appointment with a Counselor, Child Behaviourist, Psychiatrist. Your own GP is a good starting point as s/he will have lots of contacts for you; as well as being able to keep an eye on you to see how you yourself are coping.

One thing I would try to reassure you about however, is that it is unlikely that your stepson is Bipolar. Bipolarism is genetic: it is not, (unlike for example, PTSD), an external behaviour brought about by stress. Also, at four years old, it is unlikely - even if the child did have some genetic predisposition to this illness - that it would have started to manifest.

That said, your boy is indeed a troubled little boy and is not doing a very good job of coping with his little life right now, is he? You sound as though you are being quite pragmatic but, just in case the thought has/does cross your mind (which would be absolutely normal: it must be a horrid time for you)that the child actually does dislike you, forget it. Poor wee soul is trying to settle his world all on his own - and not doing too well at it, at 4 years old!

Seek guidance and help from those qualified to give it, keep your chin up, pour love in the child's direction and hang in there. My heart goes out to you.
intelfam
Posted: Thursday, June 9, 2011 7:44:12 AM
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Joined: 1/18/2010
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I agree with Romany. At least in the UK, a diagnosis of Bipolar in a four year old would be extremely rare, if it ever has occurred - never heard it, and I worked in Mental Health. His behaviour as you describe it is not sufficient to put a name to. I go with Romany in suggesting you get some advice. Even if it just confirms that what you may be doing is right, that is so reassuring and gives you confidence to carry on.

Talking generally, he needs consistency and an advisor will support you in that. The poor mite sounds like he has gone through a lot and is trying to calculate (unconsciously) what is reliable, and will test out anything to see if it will be supportive. At that age toddlers are trying to sort out what they can control and what they can't.

I gather from your profile that you are a male and that might be a clue .....
I can only suggest, in addition to seeking advice, that you do a bit of research on "anxious attachment" which might give you some insights. It might perhaps explain your "joined at the hip" comment.
As has been said, he does not really understand what his behaviour means and how to control or articulate it. Try not to take it personally is good advice.
Susie
Posted: Thursday, June 9, 2011 9:43:30 AM
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I agree with the others. Just be patient, time and love are your best bet. Good luck!!
sisikou
Posted: Thursday, June 9, 2011 10:42:03 AM
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Joined: 5/2/2011
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Location: Taiwan
reference from: http://en.wikipedia.org

Anxiety Varieties_______________________________________________

Anxiety in medicine
Anxiety can be a symptom of an underlying health issue such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart failure, or heart arrythmia

Existential anxiety
Anxiety or dread associated with the "dizziness of freedom" and suggested the possibility for positive resolution of anxiety through the self-conscious exercise of responsibility and choosing.

Test and performance anxiety
An optimal level of arousal is necessary to best complete a task such as an exam, performance, or competitive event. However, when the anxiety or level of arousal exceeds that optimum, the result is a decline in performance.

Stranger and social anxiety
Anxiety when meeting or interacting with unknown people is a common stage of development in young people. For others, it may persist into adulthood and become social anxiety or social phobia. "Stranger anxiety" in small children is not a phobia.

Trait anxiety
Anxiety can be either a short term 'state' or a long term "trait." Trait anxiety reflects a stable tendency to respond with state anxiety in the anticipation of threatening situations

Choice or decision anxiety
Anxiety induced by the need to choose between similar options is increasingly being recognized as a problem for individuals and for organisations

Paradoxical anxiety
Paradoxical anxiety is anxiety arising from use of methods or techniques which are normally used to reduce anxiety. This includes relaxation or meditation techniques[30] as well as use of certain medications.

Anxiety in Positive psychology
anxiety is described as the mental state that results from a difficult challenge for which the subject has insufficient coping skills.

Bipolar: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bipolar_disorder
Depression: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depression

All the best wishes and take care
Sal
Posted: Thursday, June 9, 2011 3:04:10 PM
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Dangeralert,

Seek professional help with your son. With the bonding-breaking-bonding you describe from his early years you may want to aks about Reactive Attachment Disorders (RAD). I adopted my daughter from Russia when she was 3 and she has RAD and similar behavior to what you describe with your son. I am often the target of my daughter's outubrsts and the fault of all that is wrong in the world belongs to me, at least in her eyes. I think I understand a little of what you are feeling. There is hope but you are going to need help.
intelfam
Posted: Friday, June 10, 2011 3:50:27 PM
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Joined: 1/18/2010
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Just re your "bipolar query dangeralert. there is a 3 page article on the New Scientist website about bipolar kids (www.newscientist.com (subscription only I am afraid)) but to give you the first few paragraphs:-

"THERE'S a children's picture book in the US called Brandon and the Bipolar Bear. Brandon and his bear sometimes fly into unprovoked rages. Sometimes they're silly and overexcited. A nice doctor tells them they are ill, and gives them medicine that makes them feel much better.

The thing is, if Brandon were a real child, he would have just been misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Also known as manic depression, this serious condition, involving dramatic mood swings, is increasingly being recorded in American children. And a vast number of them are being medicated for it.

The problem is, this apparent epidemic isn't real. "Bipolar emerges from late adolescence," says Ian Goodyer, a professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Cambridge who studies child and adolescent depression. "It is very, very unlikely indeed that you'll find it in children under 7 years."

How did this strange, sweeping misdiagnosis come to pass? How did it all start? These were some of the questions I explored when researching The Psychopath Test, my new book about the odder corners of the "madness industry"
."

I post it just to re-assure you, I doubt you need any more (but if you want the whole article, you can always pm me!)

Sal mentions Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) - that is one of the things I was pointing you towards when I suggested the research on anxious attachment. I avoided the capital letters because I didn't want to suggest a diagnosis. It is a real problem if you read an article which seems to fit the symptoms. And it's such a feeling of relief to have a name, not just because it opens the door to "treatment". But often, there can be a number of problems which share the same symptoms - so sit lightly to any labels. The general advice here seems to be to hold on in and show as much concern and love as you can. I have to say that we in the UK have been importing the US way lately; that any kid with a problem must be ill and need drugs. My personal opinion, and experience, is that if you can get a kid through with love, you end up with a better adolescent. If you drug them, you just seem to put the problem away for a while. Now sometimes and with some problems, it can be helpful to drug a child and put them on hold until they are mature enough to take the cork out of the bottle and deal with it with help. But I am not so happy, personally. Of course, as others have said, expert advice is needed, and what we say is not meant to be an answer or a medical prescription. We are just trying to come up with ideas because we all can sense the pain this is causing you.
Thanks to New Scientist.
dangeralert
Posted: Saturday, June 11, 2011 5:07:00 AM
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I can't thank everyone enough for their help, encouragement and advice. I've looked into RAD and both his mother and I think this might be the issue. We're going to take him to his doctor and see what he recommends. I'd prefer not to have him put on medication at such a young age, but as I said I'll see what the professionals have to say. Thanks again to everyone!
Epiphileon
Posted: Saturday, June 11, 2011 10:33:02 AM

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dangeralert wrote:
I can't thank everyone enough for their help, encouragement and advice. I've looked into RAD and both his mother and I think this might be the issue. We're going to take him to his doctor and see what he recommends. I'd prefer not to have him put on medication at such a young age, but as I said I'll see what the professionals have to say. Thanks again to everyone!


I would make this far stronger than a preference, if anyone recommends it, immediately seek another opinion. Psych meds in developing mind/brains is insane.
Romany
Posted: Saturday, June 11, 2011 10:56:30 AM
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dangeralert - for whatever it's worth: I support Epi's above statement absolutely. (It goes without saying of course, that asking for a second opinion is a completely different thing to simply disagreeing personally with a particular doctor?)

HarveySmith
Posted: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 3:45:06 AM
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Joined: 11/1/2011
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Location: australia
Anxiety can be a symptom of bipolar disorder. There are basically two ways you can have anxiety with bipolar disorder.  First, it can be a symptom of the bipolar disorder itself.  Secondly, you can have a separate anxiety condition in addition to bipolar disorder. If your anxiety is really a separate condition, it is going to require a separate treatment.
GabhSigenod
Posted: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 8:48:43 AM

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Romany wrote:
dangeralert - for whatever it's worth: I support Epi's above statement absolutely. (It goes without saying of course, that asking for a second opinion is a completely different thing to simply disagreeing personally with a particular doctor?)



Romany is wise.
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