Although a lot of people are still uncomfortable with talking about this illness, the latest bipolar disorder statistics reveal its prevalence around the globe — and the numbers are simply mind-blowing.
What is bipolar disorder? A person with bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, experiences severe mood shifts and changes in energy levels, which can deeply impact how they handle their daily lives and routines.
This article will try and tackle all the issues connected with bipolar disorder, including the most likely causes, the prevalence of the disease (both globally and in the US), as well as the best forms of treatment.
To find out more, just keep on reading!
Top 10 Eye-Opening Bipolar Disorder Facts You Need to Know
- According to experts, Cyclothymia patients have a 15% to 50% chance of developing bipolar I or II later on in life if left untreated.
- Individuals with bipolar are at high risk of acquiring other health conditions.
- Researchers found that over 50% of bipolar offspring have some type of psychiatric disorder.
- There‘s currently no cure for bipolar disorder.
- Recent data reports show a 0.6% share of the global population with BD.
- Data reports suggest that the prevalence of bipolar disorder is higher in women than in men.
- Children as young as 6 can show symptoms of bipolar disorder.
- Incorporating non-fried fatty fish at least two times a week into the diet plan of a BD patient is recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA).
- Around 50 million people around the globe suffer from bipolar disorder.
- NIMH states that lithium is known to help decrease suicidal symptoms in BD patients.
Bipolar Disorder Symptoms, Diagnosis, Causes, and Risk Factors
Bipolar disorder, or manic-depressive disorder, is one of the most severe and persistent mental illnesses affecting millions worldwide.
The following facts and statistics on bipolar disorder in the following paragraphs will give you insight into bipolar disorder’s main characteristics.
1. Bipolar disorder is characterized by 4 different types of mood swings: mania, hypomania, depression, and mixed episodes.
(Mental Illness Policy Org.)
Symptoms of mania may include high energy levels, recklessness, substance abuse, and intense feelings of excitement, among others. Hypomania, on the other hand, is less severe than mania and can even go undetected or undiagnosed.
Bipolar depression is a type of mood episode where the patient experiences extreme lows, including deep sadness and irritability, loss of appetite, poor sleep patterns, and suicidal tendencies.
When a person with bipolar simultaneously experiences emotional highs and lows throughout the day, they may be showing symptoms of a mixed episode.
2. Bipolar disorder statistics also reveal that most patients experience about four episodes of depression or mania during the first 10 years of the condition.
(Mental Illness Policy Org.)
What’s more, women are more likely to start experiencing extreme lows and depression, whereas men usually begin with symptoms of mania.
3. Facts indicate that up to 50% of untreated BD patients attempt suicide at least once.
The NAMI study warns of the imminent dangers of BD if left untreated, urging both parents and children with this condition to further educate themselves about the negative symptoms that drive so many to take their own life.
4. Bipolar I, one of the types of bipolar disorder, is characterized by at least one severe episode of mania or depression.
Individuals diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder have a 10% to 15% chance of committing suicide.
5. Bipolar 2 Disorder is less severe than bipolar 1 but is still considered a serious condition.
Again, the rate of suicides with bipolar II patients is the same as with bipolar I patients — between 10% to 15%.
6. Cyclothymia patients have a 15% to 50% chance of developing bipolar I or II later on in life if left untreated.
One of the causes of bipolar disorder, cyclothymia, is characterized by unpredictable and irregular mood swings; individuals with this mood disorder experience mood shifts — from hypomania to mild depression and vice versa.
7. Doctors use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to determine whether a person tests positive for bipolar NOS diagnosis.
(Very Well Mind)
Individuals with bipolar NOS — a mood disorder where the person experiences short and alternating symptoms of depression or mania — are at great risk of having a full-blown bipolar disorder.
8. Bipolar disorder statistics reveal that a sibling of an identical twin with bipolar has a 40% to 70% chance of developing the condition.
The research concludes that the twin has a far greater chance of developing the illness than any other family member.
9. Patients with bipolar I and II disorders usually have first-degree relatives with bipolar II disorder.
Other fascinating stats on bipolar disorder show that as much as 40% of the 47 first-degree relatives of bipolar II patients also had bipolar II disorder, whereas only 22% of the 219 first-degree relatives of individuals with bipolar I had the same.
What’s more, bipolar II patients had only a single relative with bipolar I disorder; meaning, bipolar II is the most prevalent type out of these two among family members.
10. Bipolar disorder is one of the most challenging conditions to diagnose.
Bipolar disorder symptoms resemble an array of other mental disorders like depression with an agitated edge, anxiety, borderline personality disorder, ADHD, etc.
11. Individuals with bipolar are at high risk of acquiring other health conditions.
Bipolar disorder symptoms may vary, yet research indicates that bipolar patients may be more prone to obesity and other serious health concerns such as stroke, diabetes, and heart disease.
12. Stanford University researchers found that over 50% of bipolar offspring have some type of psychiatric disorder.
More often than not, these include bipolar disorder, major depression, dysthymia, and even ADHD.
13. 65% of bipolar patients had at least one social rhythm disruption prior to experiencing a manic episode.
Social rhythm disruption is the disturbance of routines, particularly sleep patterns, that could trigger stress or mood swings associated with BD.
14. Suicide is not the only cause of increased mortality in bipolar disorder patients.
(Mayo Clinic, Science Daily)
Let’s delve into more serious bipolar disorder prognosis and statistics. Though suicide rates are high among bipolar disorder patients, they’re not the only cause of their shorter life span.
As already mentioned, bipolar disorder patients are more likely to develop potentially life-threatening diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. They also often get involved in health-damaging behaviors like smoking and alcohol or substance abuse.
15. A period of persistently irritable, elated, or expansive mood is characteristic of manic episodes.
According to DSM-V and ICD-10, a manic episode lasts about a week. It’s characterized by at least three (four in the case of exclusively irritable mood) of the following symptoms:
- Grandiosity and overly high self-esteem
- Pressured speech or excessive talkativeness
- Racing thoughts or flight of ideas
- Getting distracted easily
- Difficulty focusing
- Increasingly engaging in goal-oriented activities
- Increased engagement in pleasurable activities, etc.
16. One of the little-known bipolar disorder facts is that hypomanic episodes are characterized by symptoms manifesting for at least four consecutive days.
Just like mania, hypomania is characterized by expansive, irritable, and elated moods. The symptoms are the same as those occurring in manic episodes but much milder in intensity. To get diagnosed with hypomania, a patient should exhibit at least three of the symptoms.
17. A major depressive episode lasts for two weeks.
Patients experiencing a major depressive episode exhibit at least five of the following symptoms:
- Depressed mood
- Lack of interest in almost all forms of activities
- Dramatic weight loss
- Lack of sleep or excessive sleep
- Decreased energy
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Lack of focus
- Suicidal thoughts or attempts, etc.
18. There’s currently no cure for bipolar disorder.
This is one of the well-known facts about bipolar disorder. The only treatment available relates to symptom management and decreasing the associated morbidity and mortality.
The specific treatment aims are to reduce the frequency of episodes, decrease the severity of symptoms and improve psychological function and general well-being.
19. Bipolar disorder is one of the most heritable mental disorders.
According to statistics of bipolar disorder, BPD heritability was estimated at 85%. Heritability rates for identical twins amount to 57% and 14% for fraternal twins.
Furthermore, children of parents with bipolar disorder are four times more likely to develop bipolar disorder than children of healthy parents. These children are also 2.7 times more likely to develop other psychiatric disorders (e.g., ADHD) than children of healthy parents.
Interesting Facts About Bipolar Disorder — The Numbers
Though bipolar disorder is one of the most extensively studied mental illnesses in the world, it’s still unpredictable in a way. For example, no two bipolar patients will express the same symptoms, etc.
Here are some more bipolar disorder fun facts you might find interesting.
20. There are three types of bipolar disorder.
They include bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder, and cyclothymic disorder (cyclothymia). Here are the must-know facts about the three bipolar disorder types.
Bipolar I disorder is characterized by manic episodes persisting for at least a week. Manic episodes can sometimes get severe enough to warrant hospitalization.
Bipolar II disorder is characterized by a combination of depressive and hypomanic episodes. The episodes of mania, or elevated mood, are not as severe as in bipolar I disorder.
Cyclothymic disorder is defined by periods of depressive and hypomanic symptoms lasting for a minimum of two years in adults or one year in adolescents and children.
21. Nearly 1% of the US population is affected by bipolar disorder.
(Mental Illness Policy Org.)
That is approximately 2.3 million diagnosed Americans.
22. According to NIMH, 25 years is the average age of onset for bipolar disorder.
Nevertheless, this illness can still affect individuals even in their early childhood and in their late 50’s.
23. Children as young as 6 can show symptoms of bipolar disorder.
One of the common myths about bipolar disorder is that kids in their early childhood cannot be affected by this illness. Although it can happen, experts say it’s quite rare.
24. Studies have shown that a family history of this type of mental illness is considered a risk factor.
There’s a 10% to 25% chance of a child developing the disorder if they have at least one biological parent who has BD, and a 10% to 50% chance if both parents have it.
25. Almost one-third of children and adolescents with depression in the US may, in fact, be showing early symptoms of bipolar disorder.
This translates to roughly 1.1 million US children and adolescents, according to AACAP.
26. As for college students with bipolar disorder, statistics indicate that more than 3% of college students show symptoms of bipolar disorder.
Stress and the daily struggles of college life have an impact on mental well-being, according to the NIMH, which could potentially lead to the onset of bipolar disorder.
27. Women with BD may experience more depressive and mixed episodes than men (with BD).
The 2015 review by the US National Library of Medicine also revealed that treating women with bipolar disorder may be more challenging than treating men with BD due to pregnancy and the increased amount of hormones.
Bipolar Disorder Statistics Around the World
Bipolar disorder is a common mental disorder affecting a large portion of the planet.
Let’s delve into the most important bipolar disorder statistics for 2021 and discover how widespread it is, which groups are more susceptible to it, etc.
28. Around 50 million people around the globe suffer from bipolar disorder.
A population mental health professor at the University of Queensland, Harvey Whiteford, stated that there were no changes in the prevalence of mental illness over the years. Nevertheless, mental health awareness and de-stigmatization have improved quite a bit over the past few years.
29. Data reports suggest that bipolar disorder prevalence is higher in women than in men.
(Our World in Data)
Our World in Data chart shows a gender pattern that suggests that BD, anxiety, and eating disorders are more common among women than men.
30. Recent data reports show a 0.6% share of the global population with BD.
(Our World in Data)
Based on Our World in Data’s chart concerning bipolar disorder statistics, the global share of women with bipolar disorder is 0.65%, whereas “only” 0.55% of men are diagnosed with this illness around the world.
31. WHO launched the Mental Health Action Plan 2013–2020 to improve people’s mental health and overall well-being.
The main goals of this plan include: improving the leadership and governance for mental health, providing sound evidence and research to raise awareness and improve prevention, and conducting mental health and social care services for communities.
32. Recent research found that up to 20% of bipolar patients end their lives, and 20% to 60% of those patients have at least one suicide attempt during their lifetime.
So, what is the life expectancy of a person with bipolar disorder? Around 10 to 25 years; mainly due to the many health issues and risk factors associated with it. Unfortunately, suicide is one of them.
33. Severe cases of bipolar disorder make up around 83% of the affected adults in the US.
A BD case is classified as “severe” if the patient experiences long periods of distinct manic or depressive episodes, according to NAMI; these include delusions and even hallucinations.
34. A 2000–2014 study revealed a widening mortality gap between patients with BD and schizophrenia and the general population.
The above-mentioned conclusion was reached by comparing primary care electronic health records of BD and schizophrenia patients with that of the general population.
Types of Bipolar Disorder Treatment
Though there’s still no cure for bipolar disorder, there are many effective treatments for symptom management ranging from pharmaceuticals to cognitive behavioral therapy.
The following statistics will reveal all you need to know about them.
35. Bipolar disorder treatment depends on the phase of the episode.
Before selecting the appropriate treatment for a bipolar patient, clinicians first determine the severity and the phase of the episode (mania or depression).
Then, they decide on the proper combination of medication (e.g., benzodiazepines, dopamine agonists, antimanic agents, antipsychotics, anticonvulsants) and psychotherapy.
One of the little-known bipolar disorder facts related to treatment is that only selected bipolar patients might be good candidates for electroconvulsive therapy.
36. The success rate of BD treatment is estimated at 80%, according to the NAMHC.
(Mental Illness Policy Org.)
Medications, such as antidepressants and mood stabilizers, are used to manage the symptoms of BD rather than treat the illness itself.
37. A number of psychotherapeutic methods are effective in helping BD patients cope with the symptoms.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), for instance, helps patients learn coping techniques by attending one-on-one sessions with a therapist or group sessions with individuals who are going through the same thing.
Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy incorporates interpersonal therapy with CBT to help patients establish a healthy routine, while psychoeducation allows them to use tools that manage mood swings.
38. Bipolar disorder stats and facts indicate that atypical antipsychotics — meds that help manage mood swings — are known to have side effects.
In fact, the FDA requested the manufacturers of atypical antipsychotics to warn and educate customers of the serious health risks associated with the use of this medication.
39. Electroconvulsive therapy is a treatment used for extreme episodes, including psychotic or suicidal symptoms.
This brain stimulation procedure is an alternative treatment for patients who don’t respond well to common medication. According to statistics about bipolar disorder published by WebMD, this treatment comes with several side effects such as confusion, headache, and nausea.
40. NIMH states that lithium is known to help decrease suicidal symptoms in BD patients.
An NCBI report shows that BD patients use more lethal suicide methods than those with other psychotic disorders — hence why lithium pharmacotherapy could play such a significant role in suicide prevention among patients with BD, as well as other mental health conditions.
41. Based on a bipolar disorder statistics report, regular exercise — walking, running, and swimming — can ease hypomanic symptoms.
The same study also reveals that exercise could potentially worsen the state of patients with manic symptoms.
42. Incorporating non-fried fatty fish at least two times a week into the diet plan of a BD patient is recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA).
Experts believe that fish oil could help improve the mood of individuals with bipolar disorder; salmon, trout, anchovies, mackerel, and herring are a great source of it.
Facts About Bipolar Disorder and Marijuana
Humankind relied on herbs and plants for ailment relief for millennia. Even well after the emergence of modern medicine, the tendency to seek natural remedies remained.
This led researchers to explore the effects of marijuana on bipolar disorder.
43. Does weed help with bipolar disorder? According to Health Central, there are no clinical trials to support the use of medical marijuana as a treatment for bipolar.
Based on the article, the use of marijuana may help the patient in terms of reducing stress, improving sleep quality, and easing anxiety and manic depression, as well as other bipolar symptoms. But, what it doesn’t guarantee are — long-term results.
What race is most affected by bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder can develop in individuals of all races and ethnicity. However, the NAMH reveals alarming facts. There’s a disparity between the treatment rate of white and people of color with BD, which many perceive as discriminatory.
There are a lot of misconceptions regarding the people suffering from bipolar disorder that have contributed to the overall stigma surrounding this condition. But one thing is certain — this type of mental illness affects the lives of many an individual around the world.
Bipolar disorder statistics and facts about mental illnesses, in general, are essential for improving public awareness. Consequently, individuals diagnosed with BD will be more comfortable with sharing their experiences, including their personal treatment and coping strategies that might prove useful to those who are most vulnerable to this condition.