Home Articles Bipolar Disorder The Bipolar Child - a Checklist of Warning Signs


There is no standard test for bipolar disorder. This checklist, printed in a recent Time Magazine article on Bipolar Disorder in children, was adapted from the book "The Bipolar Child" (see a review of it on this website under book reviews).

If you recognize more than 20 of these warning signs in your child, you should consider having your child evaluated by a psychologist or psychiatrist. Remember, many disorders and problems can share similar behaviors, so it is important that your child be evaluated by someone who is experienced making these distinctions.


1. Excessive distress when separated from family.

2. Excessive anxiety or worry.

3. Difficult arising in the morning.

4. Hyper and excitable in the evening.

5. Fitful sleep or difficulty getting to sleep.

6. Night terrors or frequently wakes in the middle of the night.

7. Unable to concentrate at school.

8. Poor handwriting.

9. Difficulty organizing tasks.

10. Difficulty making transitions.

11. Complains of being bored.

12. Has many ideas at once.

13. Is very intuitive or creative.

14. Easily distracted by outside stimuli.

15. Has periods of excessive, rapid speech.

16. Is willful and refuses to be subordinated.

17. Displays periods of extreme hyperactivity.

18. Displays abrupt, rapid mood swings.

19. Has irritable mood states.

20. Has elated or silly, giddy mood states.

21. Has exaggerated ideas about self or abilities.

22. Exhibits inappropriate sexual behavior.

23. Feels easily criticized or rejected.

24. Has decreased initiative.

25. Has periods of low energy or withdraws or isolates self.

26. Has periods of self-doubt and poor self-esteem.

27. Is intolerant of delays.

28. Relentlessly pursues own needs.

29. Argues with adults or bosses others.

30. Defies or refuses to comply with rules.

31. Blames others for own mistakes.

32. Is easily angered when people set limits.

33. Lies to avoid consequences of actions.

34. Has prolonged, explosive temper tantrums or rages.

35. Has destroyed property intentionally.

36. Curses viciously in anger.

37. Makes moderate threats against others or self.

38. Has made clear threats of suicide.

39. Is fascinated with blood and gore.

40. Has seen or heard hallucinations.


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