How common is rage in a manic phase for children with bipolar?

How common is rage in a manic phase for children with bipolar?

I would have to say rage can be just as common as sleep deprivation, or agitation or any other symptom that goes along with mania.  It really depends on the individual child as to how common each symptom is. Because we are all individuals and that makes each of us different therefore our symptoms are different.  But for this article we will concentrate on rage.  We will use my daughter as an example.

Bug was first diagnosed bipolar at the age of 7.  It was a rough road at first.  She had constant mood swings and her most frequent mood was mania and along with it came rage.  She would be so hyper she would be bouncing off the walls almost literally.  I mean you couldn’t have sat on her and held her down.  She would be playing with her sister.  One minute everything would be fine and dandy the next minute she would be squeezing a stuffed animal trying to rip its head off.  She would hold a stuffed animal in her hand, squeeze it, start shaking and stare at my youngest daughter like she wished it was her she were squeezing instead of the stuffed animal.  It honestly frightened me and I began to honestly fear for my youngest daughter’s safety.  So I talked to the doctor about it and we started adjusting her meds and trying new things.  One time, she was all happy go lucky and all my family was over for a dinner and my niece was teasing her, just having a little fun with her, she got so angry she started throwing things and swinging her fists and hitting the first things she came in contact with and kicking and biting.  I had to run and grab her and just hold her as tight as I could in a bear hug.  She was clawing me and kicking me and biting me and screaming.  She did that for a few minutes until she was just spent and then she just went limp and started crying and it was over.  She is 10 now and even though she is more stable and her meds are adjusted properly she still has her moments.  For the most part Bug lives on the high side of stable.  She stays hyper and we work constantly to keep her managed.  But as I said, even now she has her moments, especially at school.  She is on the border line of being expelled.  She has punched a kid twice (different kid each time).  When someone pushes her to her limit she will snap and I have tried to explain this to them.  The first time a kid was teasing her in class, the second time they were standing in the bus line waiting to load to come home from school and her and a few other students were slapping each other (childish I know) but Bug ended up punching one of the students and she got wrote up for it.  Now the next time it happens she is going to be expelled.  She also has a really bad habit of when she gets angry she will just reach out and grab the closest person to her and squeeze them (usually there arm) and she digs her nails in when she does this (she has long finger nails).  So you see we are still battling with small fits of rage even though Bug is considered stable.

Rage is a common factor in a manic phase even in adults and it is hard to reason with or control.  So if it is hard for an adult to control imagine how difficult it must be for a child whose cognitive function hasn’t fully developed yet.  The best advice I can give as far as how to handle your child in these circumstances is go with your instincts.  No two situations are the same.  There is no user’s guide or manual telling you how to handle these sorts of things.  Talk with your doctor.  Definitely explain to him about the rage fits because they can be subdued if not somewhat controlled with the proper medication.  The more knowledge your doctor has the better he is able to treat your child.

I hope I was able to give you a little more insight into rage in a manic phase.  Remember you are not alone.  There are others who have been thru what you are going thru and others who are still going thru it.  Talk to your doctor.  There may be support groups in your area if you are interested in talking to others who are experiencing the same things you are going thru too.  And as always you can always email me here at Angel @ askabipolar . com (just remove the spaces)

3 thoughts on “How common is rage in a manic phase for children with bipolar?

  1. Hi- I just want to add that rage is often a component of anxiety in children as well. My son had – has – rage in the manic phases of schizoaffective, but his rage is much more frantic due to anxiety.

  2. Wow, our daughters could be twins! Mine is 8 now, dx at 6. My daughter’s rages came from depression we think. she would be frustrated and miserable and rage about 12x per day attacking us, kicking, screaming, hitting, scratching…she was miserable and so were we. we still see it from time to time but she is mostly stable. thanks for writing about this. It is so nice to hear from other parents who “know” what we are feeling.

  3. Other things that can be helpful with helping to manage rage episodes along with other symptoms of bipolar is to access a big sister/brother, or a mental health youth worker to spend 1-1 time with your child. I was a youth outreach worker for a children’s community mental health clinic and generally spent 3-6 hrs. per week with a child on a 1-1 basis. Many children/adolescents with bipolar or any type of mental illness often benefit with these kinds of interventions. I was trained to be able to recognize rage in my clients and had knowledge about how to handle these situations and help teach a child how to cope and manage things like rage. A child psychologist and/or mental health counsellor can also be helpful to both the parents and the child with regards to monitoring your child’s mental health status along with providing tips and support. So if your child does not have any of these types of supports I would advise that you look into what services are available in your community and access as many as you can. Depending on your child’s school, there may be a school counsellor who has training/experience with children’s mental health issues, so that may be another option as well.

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