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Young and Poor: The Costs of Bipolar Disorder

ask youUnless you’re well-to-do, your early to mid-20’s most likely consists of scheming to live on the cheap.

You’re pinching pennies everywhere, from grocery bills to mark downs at the department store.

But saving money when you’re bipolar can be especially hard.

Psychiatrist appointments, therapy appointments, prescription co-pays, and general practitioner costs from effects of bipolar medication can really put a dent in one’s pocketbook.

Especially when that bipolar person doesn’t have insurance.

Here I break down some of the costs that I incur as a 24 year old with bipolar disorder without access to insured health care.

These are just some of the costs that a young bipolar individual might incur, not including potential hospital visits and missed work days.

Psychiatric Appointments

I have been seeing the same psychiatrist since I was in high school, so after I was dropped from my parents’ insurance after getting married, my p-doc cut me a deal so I could keep coming.

I pay $50 for a medication management appointment without insurance. This is an extreme deal, as psychiatrist appointments without insurance can cost up to $200 with diagnostic appointments costing even more.

On a 30 hour per week work schedule, even a monthly appointment can really set me back for the week. However, I know how important these medication management appointments are. I couldn’t live without them.

It worries me that there are people out there like me that haven’t built a relationship with a psychiatrist that can cut a deal like mine.

There might be low-cost government locations available in the United States for those that don’t make a lot of money, but what about the couples, like me and my husband, that don’t make a lot but still aren’t in poverty?

There’s a fine line, unfortunately, and it leaves a lot of young people without care.

Therapy Appointments

In my experience, therapy appointments can be overall worse for your finances. I had an LMHC in college charge me over $80 per appointment with good health insurance.

Again, I feel that I am very lucky because my psychiatrist (who is a saint, as you can tell) hooked me up with a therapist that was growing her practice and committed to charging me only $30 per hour session.

If you’re bipolar or in therapy, you know this is a steal. It’s unfortunate that we have to talk this way about necessary care, but therapy is extremely expensive, and unlike psychiatrist appointments, they are typically needed bi-weekly or weekly.

I go bi-weekly just to save money, but I probably would benefit more from going weekly. I just can’t afford it. So I do as much as I can.

Regardless of frequency, consistency in therapy is much-needed, and lack of access to affordable therapy options for young people that are not enrolled in college sets many bipolar individuals back.

Medication Costs

It depends on what kind of strategy you have. I have found a pseudo-insurance that pays for most of generic medication costs. I also supplement this with patient assistance for my brand-name medications.

Us bipolars don’t get to choose whether we are on generic or brand name medicine, for the most part. Our bodies’ take what we like and what makes us stable. Brand name manufacturers that offer patient assistance programs are saving those with mental illness from unimaginable costs.

Symbyax, a medication I take that combines Zyprexa and Prozac, costs an average of $375.00 for 30 tablets.


General Practitioner Costs

Bipolar disorder can cause physical effects like headaches, gastrointestinal issues, weight gain, propensity for diabetes, and much more.

Going to a general practitioner without insurance can be costly. Regular appointments can cost over $100, and follow-ups are typically needed.

With my pseudo insurance, I get $50 off an appointment, but that’s no co-pay. Having a $150 dollar appointment will cost me, yes, you guessed it, a Benjamin, and when I need to see the doctor a week later—I’m broke.

Bipolar and On Your Own

Being young and on your own is a big step, with a big learning curve. Being young and bipolar forces you to become a savvy adult that knows their personal needs very well.

It requires juggling finances more than the average individual, in my opinion. And it takes great discipline to put your health needs before your wants when you’re still young and free.


How are your finances affected due to bipolar disorder? What are your tips for saving money while incurring these costs? 


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Photo Credit: Creative Commons License Victor Bezrukov via Compfight

Young and Poor: The Costs of Bipolar Disorder

Kat Dawkins

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APA Reference
Dawkins, K. (2013). Young and Poor: The Costs of Bipolar Disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 5, 2020, from


Last updated: 24 May 2013
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