Can Bipolar Go Away? (And Other Common Questions)
Following a bipolar diagnosis, many individuals find themselves asking if bipolar can ever go away. Bipolar generally does not go away and requires a lifetime of treatment, but you can develop skills to better manage manic and depressive episodes.
Is Bipolar Disorder Permanent?
When an individual is diagnosed as bipolar, one of the first questions they often ask is, “Can bipolar go away?” Unfortunately, the answer is almost always no. While you can significantly mitigate the effects and intensity of manic and depressive episodes with treatment, asking if you can make bipolar go away is like asking if you can make your thoughts go away. Bipolar is generally a lifetime diagnosis, and thus, many individuals see the most success with a focused bipolar treatment plan for managing episodes.
To better understand why bipolar is a lifelong challenge, you need to understand the factors and causes underlying the diagnosis. No specific cause has been identified for bipolar, but experts believe it occurs due to a combination of biological factors, genetic makeup, and environmental context. Since bipolar is neither purely physiological nor isolated exclusively to the mind, a broader range of treatment modalities and medication may need to be employed for the most beneficial treatment plan.
If immediate family members, including parents and siblings, have been diagnosed as bipolar, you’re at a higher risk for developing bipolar. Drug and alcohol abuse, as well as periods of intense stress or trauma, can also lead to the onset of bipolar symptoms. Because there are so many underlying factors, it’s impossible to isolate one that eliminates the issue.
When Does Bipolar Development Begin?
Bipolar tendencies can develop during early adolescence, as a teenager, or later on as a young adult. However, it can be difficult to make an early diagnosis since many of the symptoms of bipolar overlap with the natural tendencies of hormone fluctuations and puberty that occur at those ages. Negative symptoms may also seem to get better or go away for extended periods. As a result, bipolar is often diagnosed later in life after it has already fully developed into a more acute form. At that point, the individual can try to cope with episodes, but mood fluctuations may increase in intensity until one has no choice but to seek professional treatment.
Does Bipolar Get Better With Age?
Addressing symptoms early on is one of the best ways to minimize a manic or depressive episode. At the same time, identifying the patterns of mood fluctuations may help individuals identify triggers and anticipate episodes. Even in these cases, however, bipolar symptoms usually get worse with age when left untreated. The longer an individual goes without treatment, the greater the negative impact their fluctuating moods often have on their personal and professional lives. Unfortunately, many people put off treatment throughout their lives because the downs of bipolar come and go while the highs convince them they’re “better” and don’t need help.
Are There Any Positives of Bipolar?
Some people may believe that the euphoria and high associated with manic and hypomanic episodes outweigh the downsides of depressive states. Some of the positive emotions of a manic episode include a boost in confidence, increased energy, sudden positivity, social engagement, and increased productivity. However, even when considering the positive emotions of a manic episode, the adverse effects far outweigh any upsides. The lows of depressive states can ultimately impact an individual’s personal life, relationships, job, and life satisfaction, potentially leading to suicidal ideations. The downsides of depressive states quickly negate any upsides of manic states.
However, it is important to note that progress can be made and measured in living with bipolar. An individual can learn to anticipate the onset of episodes, use medication to balance moods, and participate in therapy to understand and circumvent triggers. With the right treatment plan, improvement is possible.
Does Bipolar Get Worse Without Treatment?
Even for individuals who may learn to cope with bipolar episodes on their own, it is difficult to say they ever improve or make progress in achieving a state of well-being without treatment. Medication is almost always critical to effectively manage the fluctuating moods and episodes of an individual diagnosed as bipolar. However, individuals often experience setbacks in therapy when they assume they’re better during a manic episode and stop taking their medication, triggering a depressive state.
What Happened to You?
At PCH, we want to know what happened to you, not what’s wrong with you. Even if you’ve been diagnosed with bipolar, we always start by validating any diagnosis with our dedicated specialists. You gain the peace of mind that you’re on the right treatment path from day one, and our team focuses on helping you achieve a state of well-being and balance. When you’re ready to take the first step, reach out to the team at PCH.