Top facts about bipolar disorder
Here are a few things we think you should know that may help you understand our aims.
The World Health Organisation has identified bipolar disorder as one of the top causes of lost years of life and health in 15-44 year olds, ranking above war, violence and schizophrenia. This is not to be taken lightly – the effects of Bipolar Disorder are far reaching…
- Bipolar disorder probably affects up to 2.4 million people in the UK, 12 million in the US and 254 million worldwide.
- The World Health Organization has identified bipolar disorder as one of the top causes of lost years of life and health in 15-44 year olds, ranking above war, violence and schizophrenia.
- It increases the suicide rate by up to 20 times.
- Even in developed countries it is poorly recognised. The average time from first symptoms to seeking help is around 4.5 years. A United States survey found it took 10.2 years, on average, until correct diagnosis and treatment.
- Misdiagnoses occurred on average 3.5 times before correct diagnosis in the same survey.
- Even with current non-optimal treatments, people with bipolar disorder spend around 50% of their lives after onset with significant symptoms, mainly depressive.
- A survey in the United States found that as many as 70% of psychiatrists were unaware of the American Psychiatric Association’s expert treatment guidelines on bipolar disorder.
- In one national study amongst people with bipolar disorder who died by suicide, 60% received inadequate treatment. Many had received no treatment at all.
- We already know that good treatment extends life expectancy by 6-7 years and returns the standardised mortality rate to normal (an index insurance companies use to help assess risk).
- Compared to other health problems which cause similar or lower impact, treatment of bipolar disorder is hampered by severe stigma and inadequate funding for research.
The blessing and the curse – almost certainly the genes which in one combination can give rise to severe disabling bipolar illness, can in other combinations have advantages – “the bipolar advantage”. This may explain why some exceptionally creative and successful people have relatives with bipolar disorder, severe depression and suicide in their family. (And why many people with bipolar disorder are gifted).