RESEARCHERS have found it takes six years on average between the onset of bipolar disorder and when a person is officially diagnosed with the condition.
The research from University of New South Wales also said crucial opportunities to manage bipolar early were being lost.
Researchers, including UNSW School of Psychiatry conjoint professor Matthew Large, have called for a consistent approach to recording the onset of bipolar disorder symptoms.
They have also called for further studies on early symptoms and predictors of the disorders and the reasons for a delay in treatment.
Prof Large led a study of 9415 patients that found many patients experienced distressing and disruptive symptoms for years before they started receiving proper treatment.
Prof Large said the delay was often longer for young people because parents and doctors mistook the condition for moodiness.
"This is a lost opportunity because the severity and frequency of episodes can be reduced with medication and other interventions," Prof Large said.
He also said diagnosing bipolar could be missed because it relied on a detailed life history and information from carers and family.
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