The Bipolar Child

The Definitive and Reassuring Guide to Childhood’s Most Misunderstood Disorder

“The shot heard round the psychiatric world” wrote that the first edition of The Bipolar Child was “the shot heard round the psychiatric world” as this book began to change the way child psychiatry understood children suffering with these symptoms, and how they should, (and should not be) treated. In the book, the Papoloses were the first to sound a national alarm about the dangers of using antidepressant and stimulant drugs with this population of children. A second edition was published in 2002, and a substantively revised third edition in 2007. The Papoloses continue to provide the cutting-edge information that parents and professionals have come to rely on.

They comprehensively detail the diagnosis, explain how to find good treatment and medications, and advise parents about ways to advocate effectively for their children in school. In this edition, a greatly expanded education chapter describes all the changes in educational law due to the reauthorization of IDEA 2004, and offers a multitude of ideas for parents and educators to help the children feel more comfortable in the academic environment. Also included to these pages is a new IEP and a highly focused list of accommodations that can easily be incorporated into that document. Sample letters that jumpstart the IEP process and that introduce a child warmly to new teachers can also be found in this chapter.

Because written expression difficulties so dog these children and make school and homework assignments such a nightmare, a complete discussion recommends specific testing as well as specific accommodations and remediation.

The book also contains crucial information about the importance of neuropsychological testing (with a recommended battery of tests, and a detailed explanation of the updated test of general intellectual ability–the WISC-IV)), hospitalization, and the world of insurance.

Included in these pages is information on promising new drugs, greater insight into the special concerns of teenagers, and additional sections on the impact of the illness on the family. These children easily become bored and provocative with siblings and parents; they can go into “mission mode” when requests cannot be gratified instantly; and many suffer sleep inertia–they simply cannot get up in the morning–causing parents to start each day with dread and agitation. Techniques to modify these behaviors will help the children gain control and make home life less stressful

In addition, an entirely new chapter focuses on major advances taking place in the field of molecular genetics and offers hope that researchers will better understand the illness and develop more targeted and easier-to-tolerate medicines.

The Bipolar Child is rich with the voices of parents, siblings, and the children themselves, opening up the long-closed world of the families struggling with this condition. Already proved to be an invaluable resource for parents whose children suffer from mood disorders, as well as for the professionals who treat and educate them, this new edition is sure to continue to light the way.

Table of Contents

Preface to the Third Edition

Preface to the First Edition


I. Diagnosis and Treatment
Voices from the Front
The Diagnostic Dilemma
How to Find Good Treatment
Prescriptions for Treatment
The Genetic Aspects of the Disorder

II. Inside the Brain and Mind
The Psychological Dimensions
What Causes This Condition?

III. Living and Coping with Bipolar Disorder
The Impact on the Family
School: A Child’s World Beyond Home
The Neuropsychological Testing of a Bipolar Child
Navigating the Shoals of Adolescence
When a Child is Hospitalized
The Insurance Maze

IV. Life Goes On

Agenda for the Future
The Bipolar Child Questionnaire


Organizing and Publicizing a Support Group for Parents
Of Bipolar Children



The Definitive Reference on Bipolar Children
There is NOTHING that compares with the information in this book! It is the benchmark of knowledge and resources. There is a great reassurance in reading it that many families are facing the same nightmare and can find ways of living through it. This book should be required reading for anyone in the mental health field. Every parent of a child with bipolar disorder should have a copy.

Leslie Proctor

“A pioneering, courageous, and potentially life-saving chronicle of the realities of living with a manic-depressive child….By listening to the parents’ stories, and profiting from the Papoloses groundbreaking research, an entire generation of children can get help and go on to lead productive lives.”

Victoria Secunda, author of When Madness Comes Home

“Up until now no literature has addressed the issue of bipolar disorder, but with this book, the Papoloses have somehow managed to climb into the minds of the parents of bipolar children and answer our tremendous number of questions….Finally, parents of bipolar children have a book that will help them find hope!”

S.M. Tomie Burke, founder, Parents of Bipolar Children and the BPParent Listserv

Required Reading for Parents, Educators and Providers, This exceptional book is an in-depth, yet easy-to-read, “bible” on early-onset (childhood) bipolar disorder. It covers every aspect of this devastating and misunderstood illness–from genetics, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment/medications to impact on the family, educational implications, and insurance. This book ought to be “required” reading for everyone involved in the life of a bipolar child, including parents, relatives, teachers, therapists, and doctors. It is a medical reference book, parent handbook, educational planning book, treatment roadmap, and book of hope–all rolled into one!

Diane Docherty

“Demitri and Janice Papolos have broken important new ground by taking on the challenging problem of bipolar (manic-depressive) disorder in children and adolescents. The disorder is much more prevalent than has traditionally been accepted by many mental health professionals, frequently undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, and improperly treated. This new book reviews what is known about this long overlooked, but rather common, pediatric disorder, balancing scientific and clinical knowledge with moving personal accounts of experiences of real families who have known the problems all too well, typically with too little appropriate help. Their efforts are welcome, and should help to open up a much-needed, wider consideration of pediatric bipolar disorder, its distinction from behavioral and attention disorders of youth, and the need for redoubled efforts at serious scientific study as well as clinical efforts to improve its timely recognition and long-term treatment. This book has major public health significance.”

Ross J. Baldessarini, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry & Neuroscience, Harvard Medical School