Bipolar Disorder Facts

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In a given year, about 2.6% of adults in the United States have bipolar disorder. This amounts to nearly 6 million people.

Over 82% of those U.S. adults with bipolar disorder are classified as having a severe case, and just over 55% are receiving treatment.

Bipolar disorder is equally common in men and women, but women are more likely to have a rapid cycling form of the disorder. They are also more prone to depressive and mixed state episodes than men.

Onset of bipolar can happen at any age, but the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that at least half of all cases develop before age 25.

There is a genetic component to bipolar disorder, but genes are not the whole explanation. Children with one bipolar parent or sibling have an increased risk of developing the disorder, and the risk increases even more when both parents are bipolar. However, if one identical twin has bipolar disorder, chances are only 40%-70% that the other twin will also be diagnosed, indicating that something more than genetics is at work.

Episodes of mania or depression can be triggered by environmental stresors, such as lack of sleep or major life events.

Alcohol and other drugs can also trigger or prolong bipolar symptoms, and substance abuse is very common among people with the disorder--as many as 50%.

Bipolar disorder often co-occurs with other psychiatric and physical illnesses. Common ones include anxiety disorders, ADHD, substance abuse, heart disease, thyroid problems, diabetes, migraines, and obesity.

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