Many who suffer from bipolar disorder may wait years from the first onset of the problem to first diagnosis. Generally, symptoms do not begin until adolescence but symptoms can be misdiagnosed.
In 2007, researchers from the National Institute of Mental Health studied 480 adults who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. On average, patients had suffered this debilitating illness for approximately 20 years, with symptoms starting in their early twenties.
Children and adolescents are often diagnosed with ADHD or depression and treated with drugs that do not address the shifts in mood, energy levels, or self-defeating behaviors.
For many suffering from bipolar disorder early diagnosis and appropriate treatment could spare them a life of out of control feelings and thoughts as well as substance abuse. The proper treatment can alter the course of the illness and the quality of the patient’s life.