My 8 yr old is bipolar and is on 1000 ml of seroquel a day, clonodine, and 50ml of zoloft. He has been hospitalized in the past. The hospital released him after a 3 month stay. Since his release 1 yr ago he has had some good days and some really rough ones. He sees a therapist at his school 3 days a week but he still struggles to stay in class a full day and consequently misses a lot of school. I don’t know where to turn to for help with him especially when it comes to parenting a child with his needs. I fear that the already high dosages of medication may affect him negatively someday. I have a lot of concerns at this time and have no idea where to look for answers or whether i should be seeking counseling for the entire family. Please help.
A. Yes, you should absolutely seek counseling for the family. Medication-only in no way should be considered comprehensive. The family needs to be involved because your son’s issues affect the entire family. You did not mention if you have other children but if so they are to some degree affected by the challenges of your 8-year-old son. A good family therapist could be a real asset for you and your son in this difficult situation.
The medications that your son is taking are very powerful, especially Seroquel. Seroquel is an antipsychotic medication designed for the treatment of psychotic disorders in adults. The concern with an 8-year-old taking this medication is multifold. There has been little or no testing by the scientific community as to whether antipsychotics are safe for children. Antipsychotic drugs may not be FDA-approved for use with children. PBS recently aired a documentary on this subject called The Medicated Child. It’s worth watching. The documentary highlights the issues related to young children taking antipsychotic medications. It also explores the controversy that exists within the psychiatric community as to whether young children could legitimately have a bipolar diagnosis. The PBS website has many resources for parents. I would highly recommend that you view the video (which can be done online) and read the materials on the website.
A good counselor or family therapist could be what is needed to help you and your family in this situation. You did not detail the exact nature of the problem your son is experiencing but I can assure you medication alone will most likely never be a fully effective treatment. You should pursue counseling. Keep searching for a competent counselor until you find one that honestly helps you and your family. Antipsychotic medications have serious side effects and it’s unknown at this time exactly how they affect children. The side effects are potentially dangerous and irreversible. For this reason and others, it’s imperative that you search for a therapist or group of mental health providers that specialize in treating children and families struggling with the issues you and your family are dealing with. It will not be easy to find competent help but there is a good chance you’ll find it if you keep searching.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 23 Feb 2009
Randle, K. (2009). Help For 8 Year Old with Bipolar. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 8, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/02/23/help-for-8-year-old-with-bipolar/