Typically, children with bipolar disorder see three or four doctors over at least eight years before being correctly diagnosed. The earlier the diagnosis and proper treatment, the quicker children can be helped and the more likely they will be able to avoid later problems with suicide attempts, alcohol, and substance abuse. In addition, some research suggests that the earlier the treatment the better the outcome; evidence indicates that the more mood episodes a person has, the harder it is to treat each subsequent episode and the more frequent episodes may become. This is sometimes referred to as "kindling."

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