Bipolar disorder is a serious mental health problem that can adversely affect your life. It is not just one disease but includes subcategories such as Bipolar I, Bipolar II, Cyclothymia, etc., referred to as Bipolar Spectrum Disorders. So, strict adherence to medications is necessary to help keep episodes to a minimum. Variables that differentiate the types of bipolar disorder include the term and intensity of the mood swings. Delay in the treatment or untreated bipolar can result in severe consequences such as major depression, hypomanic and manic episodes. In addition, bipolar have high mortality rates due to suicide, various heart disease, stroke, and cancer. This is because people with untreated bipolar symptoms face troubles in social life, personal relationships, compromises their financial status and thus, indulges in behaviors such as drinking, substance abuse, addictions, and drug abuse and risky behaviors.
Unlike illnesses, such as Diabetes and Blood pressure, where the patient agrees for the need of medication, bipolar patients often refuse to take their medication, known as treatment compliance as they do not accept their condition, even during a certain episode (called anosognosia) and therefore, refuse the need for medication.
Another major reason for the untreated Bipolar disorder is that it is hard to diagnose or often misdiagnosed with addiction and anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, substance abuse and many more. The average time it takes for the proper diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder is 10 years.
Some of the reasons for the misdiagnosed bipolar disorder are:
- Many people with mania, especially hypomania, do not consider it abnormal and think of it as simply a high amount of energy or joy.
- Continuous depressive episodes rather than mania may result in misdiagnosed major depression.
- People in a severe manic episode may see unrealistic things and be misdiagnosed as having schizophrenia.
- More than 50% of people with bipolar disorder also abuse drugs or alcohol, and so, is sometimes misdiagnosed as substance abuse.
- Due to the symptoms in children and adolescents with bipolar disorder, it may be misdiagnosed as ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).