Long-Term Effects of Untreated Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a serious mental health condition that causes extreme shifts in mood, energy levels, and activity. Once referred
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Bipolar disorder is a serious mental health condition that causes extreme shifts in mood, energy levels, and activity. Once referred to as manic-depressive disorder, the condition consists of cycling manic and depressive episodes, each with unique symptoms and signs. Bipolar disorder can affect a person’s ability to manage responsibilities and carry out daily tasks.

Although there is no cure for bipolar disorder, ongoing treatment enables people to manage their symptoms and live happy, fulfilling lives. Studies suggest that 2.8% of adults in the United States had bipolar disorder in the last year.1 While it does come with its challenges and difficulties, many people lead productive lives with bipolar disorder.

However, untreated bipolar disorder can cause numerous problems and worsening symptoms over the years. The long-term effects of bipolar disorder, especially when it goes untreated, are often severe and sometimes life-threatening. So what happens when someone chooses not to seek treatment for bipolar disorder?

When Bipolar Disorder Goes Untreated

Bipolar disorder consists of a pattern of manic and depressive episodes. During manic episodes, people feel euphoric, are full of energy, usually need little sleep, and engage in unpredictable and often risky behaviors. During depressive episodes, people feel sad, lethargic and hopeless, and often lose interest in daily activities.

These emotional and behavioral extremes are manageable with the right combination of psychotherapy and medication.2 However, untreated bipolar disorder leaves people with little or no support to manage their mood shifts. Unchecked manic or depressive episodes and the long-term effects of bipolar disorder could come with some serious consequences.

Behaviors during manic episodes are often erratic and dangerous. They may include things like excessive spending sprees, alcohol or drug use, extreme activities, or unprotected risky sex. Once a depressive episode sets in, though, the repercussions of the manic episode become clear. This further instills feelings of sadness and hopelessness, especially when someone has no clear solution for their difficulties. And then another manic episode arrives, and the cycle starts all over again.

Why Seeking Treatment is Important

Again, there is no cure for bipolar disorder, but mental health treatment makes the condition perfectly manageable. People work with their psychiatrists and counselors to develop a treatment plan and manage the long-term effects of bipolar disorder.

Typically, the best treatment approach involves a combination of medication and psychotherapy to address symptoms from both sides. Medications for bipolar disorder primarily involve mood stabilizers, atypical antipsychotics, or antidepressants. Sometimes anti-anxiety or sleep medications are useful in certain circumstances as well.

Once medications help stabilize an individual’s more severe symptoms, psychotherapy is the next step. Psychotherapy aims to help people identify problematic thought patterns that lead to risky behaviors. Recognizing and changing these thought patterns can help eliminate or reduce troublesome actions. A few helpful therapeutic approaches for bipolar disorder include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).

Clearview Treatment Programs is a network of facilities that specializes in working with individuals who have bipolar disorder. We’re familiar with the complexities of the condition and understand how to provide each person with the individualized care and attention they deserve.

If you or a loved one are struggling with bipolar disorder, Clearview Treatment Programs is here to help. Call us at  866-339-3544 or fill out our online contact form to connect with an admissions specialist today. We’ll walk you through your options and work with you to determine the best approach that meets your needs!




  1. National Institute of Mental Health. (2022). Bipolar Disorder Statistics.
  2. National Institute of Mental Health. (2022). Bipolar Disorder.


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