Health by the Numbers: Bipolar Disorder

As mental illnesses go, bipolar disorder is one of the most difficult to live with.

Also known as manic depression, it is a serious condition that impacts the brain and is characterized by severe mood swings—episodes of highs (mania) and lows (depression)—lasting from a few days to several months. Often difficult to diagnose, bipolar disorder can emerge anytime in life, affect people of both sexes and all socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds and is a chronic, lifelong mental illness. Genetics seems to play a role in who develops the disorder.

Here are bipolar statistics from the National Alliance of Mental Illness:

2.3 million: Number of Americans with bipolar disorder (1.2 percent of the population).

2: Types of bipolar disorder. Bipolar I is the most severe form of the illness and characterized by one or more manic episodes and one or more depressive episodes lasting for several weeks or months. Bipolar II is less extreme than bipolar I and is characterized by one or more major depressive episodes and at least one distinct period of abnormally elated or abnormally irritable mood lasting for several days.

25: Percentage of people with bipolar disorder that occurs before the age of 20.

1: Number of misdiagnosis received by 7 out of 10 people with bipolar disorder.

30: Percentage of people with the disorder who commit suicide when the problem is not treated.

50: Percentage of people with bipolar disorder who abuse alcohol or drugs due to delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis.

10: Average number of years from onset of symptoms to diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

7.6 billion: Estimated number of dollars spent in direct healthcare costs associated with bipolar disorder.

$12,000: Lifetime cost for a bipolar person with a single manic episode.

$600,000: Lifetime cost for a bipolar person who experiences multiple manic episodes.

50: Percentage of people afflicted with bipolar disorder who are female.

Treatment—usually a combination of prescription medication and therapy—is necessary in order for bipolar people to function in society. Mood stabilizers substantially reduce the number and severity of manic or depressive episodes and therapy can help sufferers to develop the skills and knowledge to successfully cope with the difficult disorder.

Unfortunately there are no FDA-approved drugs for the treatment of bipolar children under the age of 10.




Bipolar Disorder Awareness Day
Bipolar Disorder Fact Sheet

National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Mental Health
Bipolar Disorder in Children and Teens

National Alliance of Mental Illness
Child and Adolescent Bipolar Disorder