According to the National Institute of Mental Health, children with bipolar disorder experience mood episodes of mania, depression or a mixed variety of both feelings. The mood episode can last up to several weeks or longer depending on the child. Manic and depressive mood episodes present with different symptoms.
The NIMH explains that a child experiencing a depressive mood episode presents with deep sadness, headaches, stomachaches, fatigue, feelings of guilt, loss of appetite, emotional eating habits, lethargy, indifference, suicidal thoughts and excessive sleeping patterns. On the other hand, a child experiencing a manic episode has symptoms such as engaging in risky behavior, insomnia, anxiety, hypersexuality, short temper, talking very fast, an inability to focus and talking about grandiose ideas. Children suffering from bipolar disorder show signs of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, substance abuse, separation anxiety, anxiety disorders and other mental illnesses. Children with early-onset bipolar disorder tend to shift from one mood to the next much quicker than adults with the disorder.
WebMD states that diagnosing children with bipolar disorder is difficult. Children experiencing mania become irritable with others and show prominent psychotic symptoms such as delusions or hallucinations. Children who receive a bipolar diagnosis should get a second opinion to rule out possible behavior disorders that mimic symptoms of bipolar disorder.