View Full Version : Bi-Polar and NOT ADHD???

02-01-10, 11:42 AM
My son was diagnosed with ADHD and ODD late last year. He has started a special program at our local public school (behavioral therapy) and the school professionals are thinking that he may not have ADHD but rather bi-polar disorder. There is a family history of bi-polar so it's not totally out of the realm of possibility.

Has anyone here had a child who presented as ADHD and then later found to have bi-polar? What was your course of treatment for the bi-polar?

He is currently on Clonidine .1mg 2X daily and part of the reason I chose that med is because it also helps with the ODD as well as ADHD......

The school is writing up a report of their findings for me to present to his behavioral pedi in April, so we're sticking with his current meds until then but I need a jumping point for my research....


Lady Lark
02-01-10, 12:05 PM
It is possible, since many of the symptoms overlap, so it's difficult to diagnosis what the root cause is. When we realized that it wasn't just ADHD with our son, I was looking into bi-polar as a possibility. Some of his issues matched, and we too have a family history. Turned out it's Asperger's, but there is still the possibility that bi-polar can come along.

Be careful though. When I brought up the idea of bi-polar to his psyc, I didn't even get to finish the sentence before I was being told that "bi-polar is the new ADD." Many are skeptical at best about early onset bi-polar, and I'm unsure about the current research in that area (although I know others her aren't).

02-01-10, 12:33 PM
There are a couple other web sites that have a lot of information about bipolar in kids. ( ( (

A few key issues to take away from the current research on bipolar in kids. Stimulant medications can make the bipolar symptoms worse. So it is good that you are not giving stimulant medications to your child. Clonidine (one of the alpha agonist), which your child is taking, is a good one to try for a child suspected of having bipolar, is a good choice. Strattera is another alternative. Another thing, is that therapy can help with bipolar symptoms, but generally can not help with ADHD.

There is also a time released form of Guanfacine out now. It is called Intunive. It is another alpha agonist medication.

Good luck.

02-01-10, 12:47 PM
It can be hard to diagnose bipolar in kids and many docs will not do so. Although our psychiatrist does not "diagnose" kids with bipolar, he treats the symptoms when they are present. When bipolar is posible, the doc has to be cautious with the stims as mentioned above.

Bipolar is something we have watched for as well; we may have a couple undiagnosed relatives (or it is untreated ADHD/ODD). In the case of my youngest who had rages around the age of 8, the doc started with the ADHD/ODD diagnosis (but was cautious with stimulants in case bipolar was present) and then treated the increasing ODD/aggression with an antipsychotic when the rages were at their worst with my daughter endangering herself and others. She was first on concerta and then guanfacine was added. When the rages were at their worst, risperdal was added to her stimulant and guanfacine. In hindsight, she was terribly anxious and frustrated in school, having conflicts at home over homework and kids at school were teasing her; and her anxiety and frustration came out as aggression and rages. As school got better and we worked with positive reinforcement behavior modification (rather than punishment), things got better and she went off the risperdal. So in the case of my youngest, bipolar may not be the issue, but it was good to have an experienced doc managing the meds cautiously through this, and we will continue to watch as she grows up.

In addition to the other links you were given, Additude has an article comparing the two:

02-01-10, 02:33 PM
Thank you all! Great links!

One of the big things that I told all of the professionals months ago is that my son did not appear to have any triggers....that his moods would just change in the blink of any eye. That seems to follow what I'm reading for bi-polar disorder.

Thanks again.