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Bipolar disorder in children and teens and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) share some similar characteristics. It is possible for a child to have both conditions, but certain characteristics help distinguish one from the other:
|Symptoms of bipolar disorder||Symptoms of ADHD|
|The child throws violent, destructive temper tantrums that can last for hours. The child hits, kicks, destroys property, and may threaten to harm someone else.||The child throws temper tantrums that usually last for only minutes, and he or she does not usually destroy property.|
|The child can act as though he or she is losing touch with reality during a temper tantrum.||The child does not lose touch with reality during a temper tantrum.|
|Mood swings and strange behaviors occur unpredictably. The child may be withdrawn or irritable one moment and extremely happy or giddy the next.||The child has difficult behaviors (such as hyperactivity) that are fairly consistent. He or she can get very happy or silly.|
|The child's response to external events is prolonged and out of proportion to the event.||The child's reaction to external events is not extreme and is resolved in a normal amount of time.|
|The child shows signs of hypersexuality (talking or thinking about sex, having sex, or using sexual language).||The child can show some signs of sexually inappropriate behavior, but the behavior is usually not severe or the child can be distracted from this behavior.|
|Sleep disturbances and inability to sleep occur periodically. The child often has plenty of energy despite not getting much sleep.||Sleep disturbances and inability to sleep are long-term (chronic). The child is usually tired when he or she does not get enough sleep.|
|Primary Medical Reviewer||John Pope, MD - Pediatrics|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||David A. Axelson, MD - Child and Adolescent Psychiatry|
|Last Revised||April 12, 2011|
Last Revised: April 12, 2011
Author: Healthwise Staff
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