Bipolar Disorder: Facts, Statistics, and Treatment
Roughly 2.8% of the US adult population suffers from bipolar disorder – a mental health condition affecting a person’s mood. The state gets its name from the two distinct phases – or poles – that distinguish it from other similar situations. Cycling between a manic and a depressive episode, bipolar disorder produces stark shifts in mood that can make it difficult for a person to perform everyday tasks.
Causing severe impairment in a person’s functionality, work, and socialization, bipolar disorder requires prompt treatment. This is especially true if the individual threatens themself or those around them.
Fast Facts: Bipolar Disorder in Numbers
- Bipolar disorder affects 45 million people worldwide
- 8% of US adults suffer from bipolar disorder
- 4% of US adults have had bipolar disorder at some point in their lives
- 9% of those suffering from the condition claim that it has caused the severe impairment, which is the highest rating for any mood disorder
- The average age for a bipolar disorder diagnosis is 25 years
- Men and women are equally affected at a ratio of 1:1
- Suicide occurs in 10-15% of those with the condition
- Patients will typically be misdiagnosed for the first ten years
- More than 66% of people with bipolar disorder have a relative with a similar mental health condition
- Bipolar disorder is the 6th leading cause of disability worldwide
- 60% of people with the condition go without treatment
What are the Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?
There are four main categories of bipolar disorder. And because each one may manifest differently or stem from different causes, a proper diagnosis is necessary to guarantee appropriate treatment. These categories include:
- Bipolar I disorder: Characterized by a manic episode lasting seven days or a severe attack requiring hospitalization. This then comes hand in hand with a depressive episode lasting at least two weeks. It’s also possible for the individual to manifest both depressive and manic symptoms together.
- Bipolar II disorder: This bipolar is characterized by a hypomanic episode, which is milder than the full-blown mania that bipolar I cause. Similarly, however, bipolar II also comes with seasons of depression.
- Cyclothymic Disorder: Also called ‘cyclothymia,’ this disorder manifests both hypomanic and depressive symptoms over two years. However, the severity of the symptoms doesn’t qualify for bipolar I or II diagnosis.
- Bipolar disorder due to another medical condition includes bipolar disorders induced by certain drugs and illicit substances. Some states are also known to cause manic and depressive symptoms, thus making bipolar disorder a result of another underlying health problem.
For a person to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, they must have at least one episode of mania and one episode of depression. The severity of the symptoms will only determine which type of bipolar the person has.
Episodes of elevated mood characterize a manic episode. In essence, it’s the opposite of depression which is why it’s said that a person with bipolar disorder cycles between the two opposites of mood. A manic episode may involve symptoms such as:
- Talkativeness beyond normal for the individual
- Lack of need for sleep or absolute sleeplessness
- Racing thoughts
- Difficulty concentrating
- Increased activity levels and energy
- Psychomotor agitation (i.e., Ticks, tremors, leg shaking, nail biting)
- Inflated self-esteem or a sense of grandiosity
- Engagement in activities that could be potentially harmful or dangerous (i.e., Speeding, overspending)
A person in a manic state will seem out of control. Sometimes, they may act out violently and pose a threat to others or themselves. They can also be irritable, difficult to talk to, and they may be unable to perform daily tasks and routines. To be considered mania, these symptoms must be present most of the day, almost every day for a week. On the other hand, hypomania entails the presence of these symptoms for most of the day for four consecutive days.
Then there’s the other end of the disorder, which is depression. Remember that some patients will have depression for years before developing a manic episode. That’s why many people with bipolar disorder are misdiagnosed with depressive disorder. Unlike a manic episode, a depressive episode is characterized by a depressed mood and a loss of interest or pleasure in things and activities that the person previously enjoyed. These symptoms must be present for at least two weeks to qualify as depression:
- Depressed mood for most of the day, almost every day for two weeks
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities and hobbies previously enjoyed
- Weight changes, loss or increase in appetite
- Increased purposeless activity like pacing a room or rocking back and forth
- Decreased energy levels
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Impaired ability to think or focus
- Thoughts of death or attempts of suicide
Some cases occur when individuals mistake themselves for bipolar simply because they experience mood swings. And while it’s normal for most people to go through ups and downs, the marker of bipolar disorder is that its symptoms will interfere with daily functioning.