I am searching for anyone else's experiences with teens (15 now, 16 in March '07) diagnosed with both Bipolar and ADHD. I know that all experiences are not the same & that we all react differently to the different meds... but others' insight will be helpful. I am not finding a great deal anywhere about bipolar & adhd together (I do know an initial diagnosis of adhd can be an error & its really bipolar... but my daughter apparently does have both.)
Her Bipolar is more of the manic side, and I think her depressive side comes thru as extreme irritability and agitation. She was diagnosed August 2006. Her behavior changed the summer of 2005. I originally thought she was ADHD as her behavior fit the symptoms noted for ADHD. Impulsive, forgetful, defiant. Difficulty focusing in school. She used to be a happy-go-lucky girl who liked school & did well in school. Her situation seemed to change overnight after the death of my mother & then a year later, my father, and then her older brother left home -they are very close emotionally- (he was 19 & moved out temporarily to try living on his own - he's back home now) and then she started high school.
At first, I thought her turnaround in everything was due to these losses & the stress of high school - Discipline would work for awhile & then she would go right back to the same defiant behavior, over & over again. Some discipline resulted in over the top, out of control reactions from her - screaming at me & threatening suicide. I couldn't determine if this is normal teenage girl stuff or if something else was going on. Our family doc suggested neuro/psych testing. We did that last summer & surprisingly she was diagnosed as bipolar and not adhd. Our psych doc has added the ADHD diagnosis since then.
My father was bipolar. I believe Katie's father (my ex) is ADD. Our son is ADD (diagnosed after the same neuro/psych testing) & he is doing very well with Ritalin & back in college with improved interest, satisfaction, & grades.
School added extra stress for Katie. Administrators drug their feet on a 504 and/or IEP for Katie. I had to write the superintendant to get any movement, and then what they offered was minimal & would not address all of her needs. I was excluded from the planning meeting. I asked to be included & they said no!! I insisted & they refused. Then a community superintendant called me & tried to get me to agree that she is just dealing with 'teenager issues' & she'd grow out of it. I realized then that they will not take this seriously. I don't have the stomach or financial resources to fight them. So we are presently attempting to home school. I felt we had to address one thing at a time & trying to get her meds straight plus keep her in regular school was not working.
Katie has responded well to lithium and tolerates it well. The pscy doc is now trying to treat the ADHD. Focalin with the lithium seemed to work well. She was very 'up' & it was like I had my old Katie back. She would spend more time with us (instead of stay in her room all the time) was joking with us more & just in a lighter mood. She said felt the best she had in a couple of years. One downside is anxiety. I asked the doc for something to treat the anxiety & he instead, changed her from Focalin to Adderall.
The Adderall makes her irritable/short tempered. Its almost like she is not on any mood stabilizer at all. With Focalin, she felt some hope. With Adderall, she is back to feeling no hope.
I want the Adderall to stop and we go back to the Focalin. She is open to this and she is trying to deal with the anxiety thru meditation. I am exploring other natural methods for this.
Of course, the trial & error of the meds adds another stress here. Psych doc suggested we try Strattera. From what I've read so far, I have doubts about it. And Katie has no patience for waiting the 4-6 weeks to see results.
Psych doc agreed to the Focalin again. So now - anyone have any suggestions on natural anxiety treatments? I am reading about St John's Wort & Kava.
Hello and welcome to the board. There are a number of us with bipolar children that have been posting for quite awhile and under three or four main threads. When the responses grew larger than 150 someone would start a new one. Some of the earlier ones deal more with the issues you are interested in. We have two girls that are around 15-16, a boy who is 16, another who is 20 and I am the senior statesman who, with a 25 year old son have been through what they are going through currently and can offer some perspective. For now none are diagnosed ADD or ADHD, although one girl was first thought to be ADHD. Look for posts under things like "Bipolar Kids -- where's the crew?" by Pippin, Goody, Jules, Hopealways and me, Tsohl. I think you might find some of it useful.
A couple random thoughts based on your comments: Actually I just reread your post, Ann, and it sounds like you have more experience with this than I do, having a dad who is bipolar. Anway, I will proceed...Hope has a son who has suffered the loss of a beloved grandmother, and then just before Thanksgiving, her sister was killed in an accident and this really propelled his problems with bipolarity...so you'll want to connect with her. She has also been looking into a 504 plan, etc. Many of the issues you raised are common to our little group!
I think it is common to try to get the bipolar under control before medicating for the ADHD. Sometimes when you can get the right mix of meds, the ADHD kind of resolves itself. Also, in a teen the irritability and agitation can be a sign of mania, rather than depression.
Often additional meds are needed in addition to the lithium. That was the case with our son. You should try to persuade your daughter that this is all a process of trial and error, that she needs to be patient, but that the right meds can restore her to balance and good health.
I think it is difficult to try to medicate with natural remedies in addition to pharmaceuticals. Since they are not regulated, it is not easy to predict how they will interact with other prescribed medications. Some people have found yoga to be therapeutic for anxiety.
Again I want to emphasize that it often takes a good deal of time and effort to find the right mix of meds. Our son went through many meds and 4 different pdocs before finding the one who could really help him....who really knew how to treat bipolar and who understood neuro-pharmacology. At the time it was VERY frustrating...but our son has now been stable for over 18 months and life is good.
Well, enough for now. I'm sure others will be posting soon with comments and suggestions for you. You will find lots of support on this board, and lots of great people, too. regards, Tsohl
Ts, i love to read "and life is good", when you talk about your son..I want to be there so badly. my son is doing just ok. i notice when things are not so good for him, he will drink and i find that so upsetting..This is a rough week with all his friends being home from college. He goes to a local college and lives at home..He is registered for the spring semester but i honestly dont think hes going.. The thought of it is too stressful for him right now. He registered for 18 credits..i dont know what he was thinking at the time.Way too much for him right now.
Ann, my son lost his grandma this year and his other set of grand parents moved 2000 miles away, he did not handle those things well at all.. He is very close to them and misses them alot. Im sure that and all the stresses of college and real life decisions about what to do with his life sparked this whole bipolar thing. He was always highstrung and angry, but now hes all of that plus bad episodes of depression and crying, then anxiety and agitation..you never know what you are going to wake up to around here..hes on seroquel and effexor, but i really dont think its the right mix..he did start a new pdoc last week that he will see again next week..we pray he helps him..Its just so hard sometimes, to see him cry like a baby, it breaks my heart..than the next day he will be cursing us and breaking things and i want to smack him...it could make a sane person go insane..
You may like to consider Homeopathic version of Anacardium in the form of Anacardium 200c and see if it could help. Anacardium has exhibited having helped in bipolar conditions of mind. Hope this helps
Thank you all for the insights. I will try to respond to you all in this one post...
Yes, I will search for & read the previous posts about bipolar & adhd. Thanks
Even tho my father was bipolar, this is all really uncharted territory for me. He was diagnosed in the early 60s when I was a baby. The docs told my mom to just have him committed & get on with her life. (Really !!) She told them that was not an option - what else could they do? From what I've read, this was very early on in the real treatment of 'manic/depression'.
After 15+ years of treatment & talk therapy, my dad started coming out of his shell. I just remember mostly when I was a child, he would sleep alot. He did not interact much with us kids. He did interact more when we were older.
He died 2 years ago. A few weeks before he passed, he made the comment to me that he hoped neither of the grandkids (my kids were his only grandchildren) have his illness. It just never dawned on me that it would happen. But I told him that if it did, we would deal with it. Then I forgot about that exchange until a few months ago.
I feel at times that we have somewhat stumbled along. But I guess its sometimes how it goes. I am learning more about this every day & trying to ask the right questions to the pdoc. (The Bipolar Child book has been an excellent help.) I was thinking the adhd could possibly be taken care of with proper treatment of the bipolar. But we are giving the focalin a good test now & will see where it leads us. Our focalin test before was only for about one week - I hated that the pdoc pulled her off of it as she was like her old self. It was like the movie with Robin Williams, where the patients who stared off into space & did not talk all of a sudden came alive & they were their old selves again.
Yes, I've talked to Katie about all the trial & error I read about. She is quite a trooper - willing to stick it out. She has times where she gets frustrated & wants to go back to living with no meds. I talk to her about what she experienced before - and that there is hope for her to have a more calm & fulfilling life. So one hour she announces firmly that she's done with meds & my heart is heavy - and the next hour she is filling her pill box for the next week (I monitor) & reminding me to call in her refill.
We went out to dinner tonight. She tends to get alot of anxiety in public places where there are different conversations going & various other stimuli taking place. She has been working on meditation to help with her anxiety & tonight was the first time I saw her bring it under control. Closed her eyes & seemed to block out the stimuli.
The adderall has brought out some OCD symptoms. At dinner, our silverware, water glasses, & wine glasses had to be symmetrical from her vantage point. My husband (her stepdad) played with her a bit & would turn his fork sideways - she corrected it fast! Then proceeded to tell us that she was up half the night color coordinating everything in her closet. She couldn't fall asleep knowing that her clothes in her closet were not sorted by color. Her room has never been so clean & organized!!! I'll still trade that any day to have my old Katie back.
I appreciate the suggestion on the homeopathic bipolar treatment. I think we'll stick with the lithium for now. But I'll research the homeopathic suggestion. Trying to be extremely careful on whatever I introduce given all the potential negative interactions. We had a scare with her fainting a couple of times. Went thru a series of tests - all normal. I read more about lithium & saw that ibuprofen & lithium cause a lithium spike & can cause the blackouts/fainting. She was taking ibuprofen several times a week. She knows now that she cannot take that & the fainting stopped.
As far as regular high school goes, I think we may be done with it. This particular school - she'll never go back there. She & I feel they have labeled her a 'problem' kid, they've demonstrated to me either complete ignorance of mental health issues (which is alot of society I'm afraid) and/or they have the avoidance of their lawful responsibility fine tuned. (Its both really!!) IF she were to go back to a high school, it would be a different one. For now, we are thinking she takes her GED & then moves on to a local community college. She is an extremely bright girl, a great math mind, quick study, and I know whatever she chooses to pursue she will achieve. We will just approach it from a different angle.
Well, its very late here & definitely past my bed time. Until tomorrow....
I'm Hope and Tsohl is exactly right - your daughter and my son might be alter egos! Lots of similiarities and I'll write more about that when I have a little more time. My son is just starting Concerta along with his bipolar meds. He (and we) are convinced that ADHD is also part of the picture and he has been asking for meds for awhile. Pdoc has been resistant, but finally is willing to try. My son also has anxiety issues and takes Seroquel for them. His current meds are 150 mg. of Lamictal (he is going up to 200 mg. soon), 50 mg. of Seroquel for sleep and as needed for anxiety (it's not really working for the sleep - sleep is a BIG issue for him), 15 mg. of Abilify and he'll be starting the Concerta this week. We'll see if that helps his focus.
Like your daughter, he is extremely bright, but has been having tremendous challenges.
In terms of the school - you do have rights and there is alot of information avaialble to you. Check out sites about Juvenile and Adolescent bipolar and you'll see several articles. The schools are resistant to classify kids becasue it costs them money, but should she go to another school, my understanding is that the 504 can give her additional help and she does not need to be classified. (i.e. no cost to them) This is maddening and it takes patience, but it sounds like you already have a plan.
It's nice to meet you, Ann, and I look forward to hearing more from you. As Tsohl said there are other threads where you can find more information about all of our situations.
Hope you had a nice holiday. Things slow down on the board on weekends and holidays!
I reread your posts and wanted to comment about your daughter getting agitated when in public. That rang a bell with me, something I had forgotten all about. I can remember our son being very agitated at a beachfront restaurant in Florida. There was loud music, lots of people waiting in addition to all the closely-spaced, full tables. He couldn't wait to get out of there!!Those type of issues have completely gone away to the point that I had forgotten all about it!
Keep posting with your questions and comments. There are people here who will support you. Regards, Tsohl