Bipolar disorder is a lifelong mental condition. There’s no cure, but you can manage it with medication, talk therapy, and other forms of treatment. Even so, there are possible long-term effects. Here’s what you need to know.
Over time, bipolar disorder may affect:
- Overall executive function (impulse control, organization, planning)
Your frontal lobe also might not work as well. That’s the part of your brain that helps you remember words and make decisions.
Some of the drugs used to treat bipolar disorder can change how your body functions the longer you use them.
The mood stabilizer lithium may cause problems with certain organs. These include:
Kidneys. Damage to your kidneys could trigger a form of diabetes called nephrogenic diabetes insipidus. In other words, your kidneys don’t respond to the hormone that controls fluid balance. Symptoms include always feeling thirsty and peeing a lot.
Parathyroid. Hyperparathyroidism is when your parathyroid can’t manage calcium levels. It’s a less common long-term side effect, but it can cause:
Young women may be more at risk. If you take lithium, your doctor will likely run tests to make sure it’s working the right way.
You might also take an antipsychotic with a mood stabilizer if your mania and depression aren’t well-controlled. Over time, antipsychotics can raise your risk for:
- Glucose intolerance and diabetes
- Dyslipidemia (abnormal lipid levels)
- Movement disorders like dyskinesia or Parkinson’s disease
What Happens Without Treatment
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Legal or financial issues
- Trouble maintaining relationships
- Problems at work or school
You may think of death and suicide a lot, too. If you’re having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline anytime, day or night, at 800-273-8255.