Hypomania may feel good to the person who experiences it. Thus, even when family and friends learn to recognize the mood swings, the individual often will deny that anything is wrong. In its early stages, bipolar disorder may masquerade as a problem other than mental illness.
For example, it may first appear as alcohol or drug abuse, or poor school or work performance. If left untreated, bipolar disorder tends to worsen, and the person experiences episodes of full-fledged mania and clinical depression.