Bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness) is a serious but treatable medical illness that occurs in all age groups but is most often diagnosed in the late teens to the early adult years. It is a disorder of the brain marked by changes in mood, energy and behavior that are much more extreme than the normal ups and downs that most people experience. Symptoms may be present since infancy or early childhood, or may suddenly emerge in adolescence or adulthood. Until recently, a diagnosis of the disorder was rarely made in childhood. Child psychiatrists can now recognize and treat bipolar disorder in very young children.

Early intervention and treatment offer the best chance for children with pediatric bipolar disorder to achieve mood stability, gain the best possible level of wellness and develop normally. Proper treatment can minimize the adverse effects of this illness on the lives of these children and their families.