Parenting Articles

Bipolar Disorder Q&A: How to Get Help for a 24-Year Old with Bipolar

Monday, February 10th, 2014


Kim Asks…

My nephew is 24 years old. He tried to kill himself. This has been going on since he was 17. Just Saturday he took 80-85 pills of antidepressant, very close call to his death but he made it. My questions is how can his mom and dad get help for him because of his age? He really needs to stay in the system, not at home, to be a better person.

Dr. Fink Answers…

NAMI Family-to-Family Course in Crawfordsville, IN

Monday, September 9th, 2013

Approximately a year ago, my wife, Cecie, and I along with a friend and neighbor Kitty Haffner, started a NAMI support group in Crawfordsville, IN. This Wednesday, Kitty and will start teaching the free 12-week Family-to-Family Education Program. This course is for people who have loved ones with a mental health diagnosis, including major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety disorders, and so on. For more info, check our our website,

If you have a loved one with mental illness, one of the best ways to help your loved one is to educate yourself. If you haven’t taken the Family-to-Family course, I strongly recommend you do. Check out the Family-to-Family Course Schedule to see if the course is being offered in your town or a town nearby.

If you’ve taken the course, please post a comment to share your opinion of it.

Bipolar Disorder Q&A: Son with Bipolar Disorder Not Getting Treatment

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

disturbed young man

Maggie asks…

My 21-year-old was diagnosed with Bipolar I after an extreme manic episode (he was hospitalized). It was a long and difficult few months (awful treatment, bouncing around to different doctors, etc.) during which his mania tapered down, and then turned into a deep black depression, which he is out of now.

No one can persuade him to take medication. Now that he’s feeling normal again, he seems to think that he doesn’t need medication. So no meds, no therapy, no treatment of any kind. And I am quite sure he’s self-medicating with “other” substances. (He lives with us – me/mom, younger brother, step-father.)


Dr. Fink answers…

Bipolar Disorder Q&A: How Should Parents Help Child with Serious Problems and Multiple Diagnoses and Meds?

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

girl with bipolar disorder

Cathi asks…

My friend’s 9 year old has had severe behavioral problems and several alternating diagnoses. The Dr. has prescribed Focalin, Trileptal, Lamictal, and Seroquel. She has no concentration, violent outbursts, hallucinations, etc. She has been diagnosed, at present, with ADHD, Bipolar, ODD, and PDD. She will not do work at school; instead, she sits and picks at her skin. She has been violent and tried to choke other individuals. Mam says she can’t even leave the house with her.

My friend has no money. The state has removed an older child due to DMH reasons. She is afraid of the state agencies, but has nowhere to turn. Court appointed attorney said to call if she won the lottery. What happens to these children? These medications seem excessive and risky considering her age, the possibility of adverse interaction, and off label usage. Any advice or help. We are desperate. Thank you.

Dr. Fink answers…

This is an all too common situation in children with multiple levels of developmental, emotional , and behavioral symptoms, especially when the family’s resources are limited. The first place to start is with the current doctor to get a clearer picture of the reasons for the current medications and to express clearly the ongoing symptoms that are not being addressed.

Bipolar Disorder: Blame the Illness, Not the Person

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

bipolar blameThe National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has a Stages of Emotional Responses chart that traces the emotional path people generally travel in coming to terms with their loved one’s mental illness. I’m pretty much at the final stage, Stage III: Moving into Advocacy, but I’m still sort of stuck at Stage II: Learning to Cope, which is characterized by Anger/Guilt/Resentment, Recognition and Grief.

Yes, we’ve been living with bipolar disorder for about 12 years now, and I’m still angry and resentful. Now, though, I’m not angry at my wife who has bipolar disorder. I blame bipolar disorder. It accosted my wife, tried to ruin our marriage, emotionally traumatized our children, ruined my wife’s career, and stole tens of thousands of dollars.

College Campuses Experiencing More Mental Health Needs

Friday, January 7th, 2011

mental health on campusIn an article in The New York Times entitled “Mental Health Needs Seen Growing at Colleges,” Trip Gabriel explores the increasing demand for mental health services on college campuses across the country.

The college years have always been vulnerable to mental health issues – partially due to the stresses of academic demands and the transition to living more independently and partially because late adolescence/early adulthood is the most common time to see full blown first breaks of major mental illnesses, including depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.

But in recent years it has become clear that more and more students are coming to campus with previously diagnosed psychiatric conditions and taking medications. While this may be a sign of over-diagnosed and over-medicated youth, I see it in a more positive light for three possible reasons:

Rebecca Riley's Father on Trial

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Rebecca Riley was four years old when she died three years ago. She had been diagnosed as having bipolar disorder and ADHD and was being treated with clonidine (a blood pressure medicine sometimes used as a sedative for ADHD) and Depakote (for bipolar). (See the Department of Social Services (DSS) case file recounting the timeline of DSS involvement with the family of 4-year-old Rebecca Riley.)

Parental Truthfulness in Childhood Bipolar Diagnosis

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

The Rebecca Riley case underscores the need for professionals to obtain as full a picture as possible to reduce the risk of operating on false or misleading information – from any source.

Bipolar Disorder Q&A: How can I best manage bipolar during pregnancy?

Saturday, April 18th, 2009

Purple Tablets Asks…

I’m a female of child-bearing age… who has been diagnosed as Bipolar II. The message that the different doctors have given me so far has been “don’t get pregnant.” (In fact, one offended me so much with how she delivered this message that I cancelled my follow-up appointment and got a new psychiatrist!)

Bipolar Disorder Q&A: What Should I Do If My Ex Disagrees Over Treatment for Our Son?

Friday, February 13th, 2009

Shelli Asks…

My ex refuses to believe that our son is bipolar. He insists that our boy tried to choke his half-sister to death and that our son speaks of his “evil-other side” but he fights with me about giving the boy medication. Could he be so stupid as to think our boy is just mean? Since he is medicated he is a calm and kind teenager. Have you ever heard of one of those? The ex even commented one time that our son was “like a different child” when he was visiting after he started his Seroquel but still refuses to believe the diagnosis. What can I have him read or look at to help with his disbelief?

Bipolar Beat

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Candida Fink, M.D. and Joe Kraynak are authors of
Bipolar Disorder for Dummies.

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