Discussing Bipolar Disorder: Residential Treatment for Troubled Teens

In studies run by the National Institute of Mental Health, researchers have found that the rate of bipolar disorder in adolescents is rising to the adult rate rapidly. In other studies, it has been found that the rate even exceeds adults by over 5-fold. Bipolar disorder is often viewed as an “adult issue,” but these studies are showing that it’s most certainly a teen issue, too. In residential treatment for struggling teens, it’s not unusual for teens to come through our doors unaware that they’re struggling with bipolar disorder–this is because the signs are difficult to detect.

Sometimes bipolar disorder is misdiagnosed. Sometimes it is just missed overall. We’re here to discuss the implications surrounding bipolar disorder in the hopes of helping the public understand it on a deeper level.

Bipolar disorder is extremely complex

Bipolar disorder is still largely a mystery for researchers and professionals when it comes to causes–and even treatments. Teenagers deal with a ton of emotions regularly and they’re infamously known for being disruptive, rude, and rash–this doesn’t make it any easier for parents to notice when something isn’t okay. A lot of teens that come through our doors in residential treatment for struggling teens don’t even know they have bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder takes time to diagnose, which is why it’s such a difficult disorder. James Potash, the chair of psychiatry at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, explained its complexity and the reason it’s so hard to recognize:

“You must identify and understand stretches of time where a person’s thoughts and feelings were not quite right. And then work through each stretch to recognize signs and symptoms that would indicate a phase of bipolar disorder.”

In residential treatment for struggling teens, we understand how important it is to get a diagnosis correct, which is why we focus a large amount of attention towards assessing and reassessing students to make sure we have things right. Every teen with mental health issues doesn’t attend residential treatment for struggling teens, though–many continue to suffer and worsen into adulthood where it is nearly too late to really make a difference. This is largely due to the mental health stigma that still permeates our society, but it’s also due to a lack of being able to identify it fast enough. Researchers are currently working on genetic testing, which would–if it works–give those with bipolar disorder a much earlier start at receiving treatment.

Catching it early

Catching bipolar disorder early is critical for an individual to succeed in residential treatment for struggling teens. The earlier you catch it, the better off your child is going to be. Let’s start with explaining the “mood episodes” that individuals with bipolar disorder experience. If you’ve heard anything about bipolar disorder, it’s probably about “ups” and “downs.” These are manic episodes and depressive episodes which last a week or two–sometimes longer. Each type has its own symptoms to watch out for. From the National Institute of Mental Health, symptoms of bipolar disorder include:


  • Feel very happy or act silly in a way that’s unusual for them
  • Very short temper
  • Talks really fast about a lot of different things
  • Have issues sleeping but no feelings of tiredness
  • Trouble staying focused
  • Acting out or trying riskier things


  • Feels very sad, depressed
  • Complains about pain a lot, like stomachaches and headaches
  • Sleeps too little or too much
  • Feels guilty and worthless
  • Eats too little or too much
  • Has little energy and no interest in fun activities
  • Thinks about death or suicide

If you believe your child may be suffering from bipolar disorder or other mental health issues, it’s essential to seek out a professional as soon as possible.

Elevations offers residential treatment for struggling teens

Elevations RTC offers residential treatment for struggling teens. We’re a residential treatment center for teens, ages 13 to 18, grappling with anxiety, extreme defiance, depression, ADHD, drug use, and other emotional or behavioral issues. In our residential treatment for struggling teens, we use a combination of a focused therapeutic lens, real-world environment, secure setting, and caring staff to foster growth and success in our students. We strive to help our struggling students move towards a brighter future.

For more information about residential treatment for struggling teens at Elevations RTC, please call .

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