Many children who have bipolar disorder can go for years without having their symptoms recognised, latest guidance for the NHS has warned.
More must be done to help people recognise the signs of the condition so more people can get earlier access to help, said the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
“There have been some important advances in what we know about which treatment approaches”
The majority of people with the disorder begin to experience symptoms in their teens but they can be misdiagnosed for many years, NICE said.
It has issued updated guidance on the care and treatment of people with bipolar disorder, which can affect as many as one in every 100 people.
Professor Mark Baker, director of the Centre for Clinical Practice at NICE, said: “Since the publication of the previous NICE guideline in 2006, there have been some important advances in what we know about which treatment approaches are most likely to benefit people with bipolar disorder.
“The guideline has been updated to reflect this new knowledge and sets out the criteria for when patients need to be referred on for specialist psychiatric assessment and treatment,” he said.
“It also sets out the drug treatment options for people with bipolar disorder and emphasises the need to involve the individual patient in treatment decisions,” he added.
“The majority of people with the disorder begin to experience symptoms in their teens,” said Professor Baker. “However, it often goes unrecognised or misdiagnosed for many years. More needs to be done to raise awareness of the condition.”