Facts About Bipolar
Did You Know?
- Bipolar disorder affects 27 million worldwide and approximately 5.7 million adult Americans, or about 2.6% of the U.S. population age 18 and older every year. (National Institute of Mental Health, NIMH)
- Bipolar disorder is the sixth leading cause of disability in the world. (World Health Organization)
- Bipolar disorder results in 9.2 years reduction in expected life span, and as many as one in five patients with bipolar disorder completes suicide. (NIMH)
- Every year, 1 in 20 adults experiences a disabling mental illness; 1 in 10 children have a serious mental disorder (NIMH)
- 44 million people annually experience significant mental illness symptoms that interfere with everyday living. (NIMH)
- Report of the President’s New Freedom Commission estimate the economic cost to treating mental illness to $150 billion, increasing over 20% per year
- 1 person completes suicide every 16.1 minutes with an estimated 25 attempts for every completion
- Suicide is the 3rd ranking cause of death for our youth
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a treatable medical illness marked by extreme changes in mood, thought, energy, and behavior. It is also known as manic-depression because a person's mood can alternate between symptoms of mania and depression.
These changes in mood or "mood swings" can last for hours, days, weeks, or even months. Unlike people with clinical depression (the "lows"), most people who have bipolar disorder talk about experiencing "highs" and "lows."
Abnormalities in brain biochemistry and in the structure and/or activity of certain brain circuits are responsible for the extreme shifts in mood, thought, energy, and functioning that characterize bipolar disorder.
A diagnosis of bipolar I disorder is made when a person has experienced at least one episode of severe mania; a diagnosis of bipolar II disorder is made when a person has experienced at least one hypomanic episode but has not met the criteria for a full manic episode. Cyclothymic disorder, a milder illness, is diagnosed when a person experiences, over the course of at least two years (one year for adolescents and children), numerous periods with hypomanic symptoms and numerous periods with depressive symptoms that are not severe enough to meet criteria for major manic or depressive episodes.
Bipolar disorder with rapid cycling is defined as four or more episodes of illness within a 12-month period. This form of the illness tends to be more resistant to treatment than non-rapid-cycling bipolar disorder.
Symptoms of Mania
- Heightened mood, exaggerated optimism and self-confidence
- Decreased need for sleep (less than three hours) without fatigue
- Grandiose delusions, inflated sense of self-importance
- Excessive irritability, aggressive behavior
- Increased physical, mental activity
- Racing speech, flight of ideas, impulsiveness
- Poor judgement, easily distracted, difficulty concentrating
- Reckless behavior without concern for consequences, such as spending sprees, rash business decisions, erratic driving, sexual indiscretions
- In severe cases, auditory hallucinations (hearing voices) or delusions (strong convictions about things that aren't true)
Symptoms of Depression
If a person experiences five or more of the following symptoms each day during a two-week period or if these symptoms interfere with work or family activities, criteria for a major depressive episode are met:
- Prolonged sadness or unexplained crying spells
- Significant changes in appetite, sleep patterns
- Irritability, anger, worry, agitation, anxiety
- Pessimism, indifference
- Loss of energy, persistent tiredness
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness
- Inability to concentrate, indecisiveness
- Inability to take pleasure in former interests, social withdraw
- Unexplained aches and pains