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Will bipolar disorder worsen if untreated?

John Preston, PsyD
Psychology
There's some controversy about the tendency of bipolar disorder to worsen over time if untreated (which has been referred to in medical literature as the "kindling effect"). This controversial concept proposes that the more episodes someone has, the more likely the person is to have another episode and the more frequent the episodes will get. It's controversial because, although some research evidence supports it, other research contradicts it. Regardless of the progression of the disease, in most cases treatment effectively minimizes symptoms, and increases functionality and productivity in people living with bipolar disorder.
Bipolar 101: A Practical Guide to Identifying Triggers, Managing Medications, Coping with Symptoms, and More

More About this Book

Bipolar 101: A Practical Guide to Identifying Triggers, Managing Medications, Coping with Symptoms, and More

After receiving a bipolar diagnosis, you need clear answers. Bipolar 101 is a straightforward guide to understanding bipolar disorder. It includes all the information you need to control your...
Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Medicine
If left untreated, bipolar disorder can worsen. Most people with bipolar disorder are likely to seek mental health treatment for the depressive episodes instead of the hypomania or mania. It is helpful to bring your partner or a family member with you to your doctor's visit if you have bipolar disorder. Someone close to you may notice a difference in behavior or a mood swing that you are not aware of. Your partner or family member may see how you are getting little sleep or having extreme lows or highs in behavior. Your psychiatrist can offer treatment for these symptoms before your bipolar disorder worsens. Getting early treatment for the mood swings of bipolar disorder is vital to avoid worsening moods.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.