How Does a Parent’s Bipolar Disorder Affect Children?

As parents, one of the main objectives to raising children correctly can be to maintain a stable environment for them to grow up in. When a parent suffers from bipolar disorder, it can shake the child’s stability factor as the parent experiences unannounced changes in mood.

As a child begins to experience this kind of uncontrollable environment, it can lead to negative effects on the child’s mental and emotional health.

How a Parent’s Bipolar Disorder Affects Children

A parent’s bipolar disorder can affect the mental, emotional and physical health of a child in many ways, including the following:

  • Lack of presence: For children, one of the most important things a parent can do is be present in their lives. This ranges from supporting them in athletic activities and being available to talk when needed. All parents are not perfect, however if a parent has an untreated bipolar disorder, then it can close off this line of communication and support with the child. This will occur when a parent’s behavior is erratic, quickly swinging from depression to euphoria and back again.
  • Racing thoughts: A major symptom of bipolar disorder is racing thoughts, where a person finds it difficult calm the mind and process information rationally. Children look to their parents for a sense of mental stability. If a parent is preoccupied and can’t stay organized or consistently composed, he or she can quickly push their child away without giving them the direction they need.
  • Depression: While bipolar people experience both happiness and depression, the depression can cause serious problems that can sometimes be irreversible. Depression does not encourage a person to be active or productive. This means that they might neglect to prepare food for the child, purchase necessities, help with homework, or attend a child’s events, leaving the child feeling abandoned. Depression can also lead to suicide, which will traumatize a child and potentially leave him or her looking for ways to process a parent’s death in negative ways (i.e. substance abuse or risky behaviors).

Parents are the most important people in children’s lives, as they are responsible for their upbringing and how they develop into young adults.

The most important thing parents can do for their children is make sure they themselves are mentally and physically healthy. Showing support, promoting good behavior, and consistently encouraging a child is a full-time job that should not be compromised because of bipolar disorder.