It is estimated that eight percent of individuals who experience the symptoms of bipolar disorder do not seek professional medical help for as long as up to ten years after first experiencing these symptoms.
It is also estimated that as many as sixty percent of individuals who suffer from this mental illness are either not treated at all, not properly treated, or misdiagnosed with another form of mental illness. A bipolar disorder left untreated can be devastating for the individual as well as their loved ones and can even be fatal.
Substance Abuse in Individuals with an Untreated Bipolar Disorder
It is estimated that at some point in their lifetime, sixty percent of individuals with manic depression have abused alcohol or drugs as an escape from the emotional mood swings that occur with this disorder. The most common substances which are abused among bipolar disorder patients are alcohol, cocaine, and marijuana.
When the mental illness is left untreated, most of these individuals end up with a serious problem of addiction to these substances which are also known to trigger or make the symptoms of a manic depression much worse.
The Effects of Untreated Symptoms in Bipolar Disorder
People with bipolar disorder who are left untreated or do not take their medications are susceptible to excessive mood swings of "highs" and "lows" which can create chaos in their life. When these individuals become in a state of "mania" they may go on tremendous shopping sprees, act out aggressively to the point of violence, and partake in promiscuous sexual behaviors.
During their stages of depression they have great sadness, become antisocial, do poorly in school, often miss work, or can not hold down a job. These depressions can also lead to suicidal thoughts and it is estimated that fifteen to twenty percent of individuals with a bipolar disorder who are not treated will commit suicide.