I get this question a lot, and I thought I would just answer it right here. If your child has been hospitalized several times without good effect, if the right med mix seemingly can't be found outpatient, if they are a consistent danger to themselves or you or their siblings, if they have given up hope that they can ever be anything but a failure in relationships, in school and at home, don't hesitate to consider residential treatment. This is a last resort, but it shouldn't be out of the question. To do nothing but what you have been doing without good lasting results is foolish.
That being said, do your homework. There are great residential centers and some poor ones. The poor ones would be worse than not going. Find the best you can afford. We choose Meridell because of its reputation. We didn't live anywhere near Texas, but it was worth it. I would take out a second mortgage if I had to. The experience changed our daughter's life for the good, and she is still grateful she went.
I think the key test is if the stress level is so great at home that everyone's mental health is seriously affected, you need to look at residential, to give your child real hope and to give yourself a much needed break.
About our Daughter
I am mother to four wonderful daughters, ages 17, 19, 21, and 23, and wife to the greatest husband on earth. God has given us a special child to raise one who was diagnosed with early-onset bipolar disorder at the age of seven, though she showed signs of it from the age of fifteen months. She also has ADHD, Sensory Integration Disorder (sensory seeking), Dyslexia, and Non-Verbal Learning Disorder-NOS, all typical comorbidities for a bipolar child. In spite of the trials, she enjoys lacrosse, running (finished her first marathon in October of 2014!), and reading and writing her own books. I will share with you the many joys and sorrows we have faced and will face in the future with the hope that you may find better understanding about this mental illness caused by both chemical and structural abnormalities in the brain. I desire that you will be encouraged by this blog if you are also dealing with a bipolar child. Thank you for reading and sharing in our journey.
How Did You Know She Was Bipolar So Young?
I wrote a long explanation of how we came to this bipolar diagnosis in a child so young under my post of March 19th of 2009. If your child or a child you know bears similarities, please seek out a good psychiatrist and don't wait for "things to get better." Often they will simply get worse, and the longer a child is unmedicated, the more damage their brain can accrue. Early diagnoses and treatment are key to providing these children with a chance at a successful life later as a teen and an adult.