Question: What factors might contribute to having a more severe course of bipolar disorder?
Answer: Factors that can contribute to a more-severe course of bipolar disorder might include, genetic influence.
For example if you have profound family history of both parents, or many people in the family having bipolar disorder, that is likely to predispose you to having bipolar disorder and having it express in a more severe course.
What we certainly know is that, not getting treatment for bipolar disorder is a serious and major influence on the course of the illness.
That's why it's so important, I think, for children and adolescents when they are developing symptoms that suggest bipolar disorder, get evaluated and treated early on.
It used to be that we didn't think that using medications for treatment in children was a wise idea, but we now know differently about that.
The other thing that really can be very serious in terms of driving the illness and making the illness course worse, is starting on medication and then stopping it.
It's very important for people with bipolar disorder to be on a mood-stabilizing medication.
Things would include; lithium, Depakote, Tegretol, and drugs in that category. And the more often people go on and off these medications, the more likely it is that the course of their illness will get worse.