Symptom Tests

[Self-Test] Does My Child Have Bipolar Disorder?

Is my child bipolar? Could my kid’s dramatic mood swings be a sign of the serious — but rare — condition called bipolar disorder? Take this self-test to determine whether to see a mental health professional to seek a diagnosis.

For many years, bipolar disorder was considered an adult illness. But in the 1990s, researchers started to accept the idea that bipolar disorder could manifest in childhood, in a rare form known as pediatric bipolar disorder. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, this form of bipolar disorder is often more severe than the adult-onset variety, and “young people with the illness appear to have more frequent mood switches, are sick more often, and have more mixed episodes.”

Early-onset bipolar disorder is rare, affecting just 0.5 percent of children in the U.S. It can begin as young as 6, and many children with the condition are initially misdiagnosed with ADHD, ODD, or depression — depending on how their symptoms most often present.

Could your child’s extreme changes in mood, temperamental outbursts, and vacillating energy levels be a sign of bipolar disorder? Take this self-test and then take the results to a mental health professional for evaluation.

Adapted from the Child Bipolar Questionnaire (CBQ) designed to screen for the possibility of bipolar spectrum disorders in juveniles. If you answer Yes to a significant number of these questions, consult a licensed mental health practitioner. An accurate diagnosis can only be made through clinical evaluation. Screener for personal use only.

Is your child much more curious about sex than other children her age? Does she bring up sex inappropriately in conversation, or has she engaged in inappropriate or risky sexual behaviors?

1 out of 15

Does it seem like your child has given up sleeping altogether — but often doesn’t seem tired the day after a sleepless night?

2 out of 15

Does your child have long, explosive rage attacks — sometimes complete with foul language that’s inappropriate for his age?

3 out of 15

Does your child’s mood change from happy to sad instantaneously — almost like flicking a light switch?

4 out of 15

All of a sudden, is your child convinced she can be a famous singer, president of the United States, an international spy, and a millionaire — all at once?

5 out of 15

Does your child expect the worst at every turn? Does he panic over small, seemingly insignificant events — like a minor scrape or a crime-related news story?

6 out of 15

When you try to set limits on your child — asking him to shut off his video game and join you at the dinner table — does he react in an extreme or violent way?

7 out of 15

Does your child inconsistently have periods where he has an unfocused, limitless energy that feels out of control, even to him?

8 out of 15

Does your child’s brain seem powered by a motor? Does she talk a mile a minute, or says she can’t seem to slow down her thoughts?

9 out of 15

When your child gets in trouble at school or at home, does she blame others for causing the mistake?

10 out of 15

Does your child masterfully lie to either avoid consequences or manipulate a situation?

11 out of 15

Is your child sometimes precocious — charming adults with his intelligent and mature speaking style — and then at other times does he regress to baby-like, primitive behaviors, like crawling up in a fetal position when stressed or engaging in baby talk?

12 out of 15

Does your child engage in dangerous activities — like jumping out of trees or rollerblading while hanging on to the back of a car — and later say that he knew it could be dangerous, for others but that he felt immune to that danger? Does he report that he may even welcome any injury?

13 out of 15

Does your child seek out gory films and violent, bloody games?

14 out of 15

Does your child suddenly reject taking part in her favorite activities?

15 out of 15

(Optional) Would you like to receive your bipolar symptom test results — plus more helpful resources — via email from ADDitude?

Can’t see the self-test questions above? Click here to open this test in a new window.


Bipolar Disorder in Children: Next Steps

1. Take This Test: Full ADHD Symptoms Test for Children
2. Take This Test: Oppositional Defiant Disorder in Children
3. Take This Test: General Anxiety Disorder for Children
4. Download: Is It Bipolar or ADHD?
5. Read: What Bipolar Disorder Looks Like in Children
6. Explore: Where ADHD and Bipolar Disorder Overlap

Updated on January 31, 2020