15 year old son may have Bipolar Disorder

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I have a 15 year old son who has been in some trouble. I discussed the possibility of his having Bipolar Disorder with his doctor and she agreed that it is possible and he needed to be reevaluated ASAP. He is scheduled to be reevaluated next month but in the meantime the school is persuing to expell him and I am concerned that they do not have all of the facts. Is that not discriminatory? It is obvious that he has mental health issues that need to be addressed. I am concerned that he may have had it all this time and no one really knew…even me.

A: Your question is primarily a legal one. Since different cities and states have different laws and policies governing this type of situation, I encourage you to talk with your attorney about whether your son can be expelled pending an evaluation.

Meanwhile, you must be beside yourself. Your son has been behaving badly enough that the school wants him out. There is the possibility of a mental health diagnosis. My guess is that you struggle with whether to feel angry with your boy or guilty that maybe you didn’t see that he’s in trouble. You probably are also worried about what’s going to happen and angry about the conflicting information you are getting from various parties. It would be totally understandable if you are feeling overwhelmed. Hopefully, every now and then someone offers you some real support and practical help.

Regardless of whether or not your son has bipolar illness, he still has to learn how to get along in the world and you need support in learning how to help him. Please consider going to see a family therapist who has experience with adolescents. If your son won’t go, it doesn’t matter. You can still talk to a therapist about what has been going on and get some support. Dealing with a challenging teen is hard enough. You don’t need to go it alone.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 4 Apr 2008

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2008). 15 year old son may have Bipolar Disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 25, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/04/04/15-year-old-son-may-have-bipolar-disorder/

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