Writing about my journey raising a mood disorder/bipolar child helps me to 1) connect with others who are going through similar situations and 2) move on from the stress and sadness that surrounds me while trying to raise a child with bipolar. I have blogged a lot about Aj, my now six year old son, who was finally diagnosed bioplar last year. Read more under Mood Disorder category here on site to catch up with the journey if you have not read all of the other posts yet.
Aj has been on risperidone which is the generic form of risperidal and it has worked wonders for mood stability in my son. This once always angry, mood swinging child, turned into a steady mood child who still has that normal child behavior. Aj still had his high spirits and joking nature as well as being a normal child who tests boundaries and gets upset when he doesn’t get his way. With risperidone he was no longer up and down in moods and the family unit grew stronger, more loving and happier.
Then it happened, Aj grew; one inch in height and about 20lbs of weight. According to Aj’s pediatric psychiatrist this weight gain is considered significant and increased appetite is a side effect of this medication, as we were previously warned. There are two concerns with this weight gain;
- How will this weight gain ultimately affect his health?
- Do we switch meds knowing this one works well?
I suppose there are ways to work around both concerns; first we could switch to abilify, a medication that has worked with some bipolar children as young as Aj, this medication does not have the side effect of increased appetite but doesn’t work for bipolar symptoms in all children. Or we can do the more “safe” route and increase the risperidone because due to weight gain he does need a higher dosage and he is already on the lowest possible dosage but work to meet with a nutritionist to help teach his Dad and me how to properly setup his meals and snacks to try to make him feel more full during the day, thus reducing his appetite increase.
Step one for us was to not switch medications, we know this medication he is on works wonders for him. Of course due to weight gain his moods were coming back along with his other symptoms of bipolar so the need of a medication dose change was in order. The last resort step would be to switch medications if we can not get a handle on his weight gain. So now Aj has been stepped up from .5 mg two times a day to .75 mg two times a day for a week. If that works, then keep him on that dosage, but if not then up him to 1 mg twice per day. That should do the trick, if he is still showing signs of his mood disorder, well then I suppose we will be on the phone with his pediatric psychiatrist to figure out what to do next.
For now, I am on the look out to see if I can’t find a nutritionist to work with that could help with meal and snack planning, after all that would not only help Aj but help the family as a whole get more healthy. I wouldn’t put him on a separate diet than the rest of us, we are family and if we can eat the things he is recommended to eat, then we should, just as a way to show our support for the little dude!