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In younger children chronic irritability and mood instability without classic mood swings may predominate.
Other experts feel this approach will lead to the overdiagnosis of children who in fact suffer from disorders other than bipolar disorder.
These experts argue for a narrower definition of bipolar disorder which includes episodic mood swings, elevated or expansive mood—not just irritable mood—and grandiosity or inappropriate euphoria (extreme joyfulness).
There is little disagreement about whether it exists.
The disagreement is about the symptoms of bipolar disorder in youth and how they differ from those in adults.
Behaviors connected to major depressive episodes: The combination of episodes of mania and major depressive episodes is what constitutes classic bipolar disorder.
However, more than one type of bipolar disorder exists.
In general, the older the individual, the more the symptoms may resemble those seen in adults.
Bipolar disorder and ADHD As any parent of a child with ADHD has probably already noted, there is a significant overlap in the symptoms of mania, and to a lesser extent depression, and the symptoms of ADHD.
The controversy As mentioned earlier, mental health practitioners disagree about the symptoms of bipolar disorder in youth and how they differ from those in adults.
In adolescents, where the presentation of the disorder more closely resembles that seen in adults, there is much less controversy.