“Elaina?” my mom asked, “are women more likely than men to have bipolar disorder?” I saw this as an excellent learning opportunity for all. According to National Institute of Mental Health, bipolar disorder affects 5.7 million, or 2.8 percent of the United States population, of American adults age eighteen and older. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that there are 60 million cases of bipolar disorder worldwide. Depending on your mood these numbers can make you feel one of two ways, either we are happy that you are not alone. There are millions of people that understand exactly how you feel and that you are not alone in your journey. Or, we may feel sad that there are so many of us trying so hard to keep our head above water. 2.8 percent of the population does not sound like as many people as the 5.7 million does. Not one million, but nearly six! It is a hard fact for me to swallow, too big a number to comprehend.
I found a good bit of info on healthreasearchfunding.org’s site. The average age of onset is 25, but it can start in childhood or as late as a person in his or her 50s. And Mom, to answer your question, bipolar disorder affects just as many men as women. More than 67% of people with bipolar disorder have at least one close family member that has also been diagnosed with bipolar disorder or a similar unipolar major depression. When it comes to rapid cycling. women are three times more likely than men to experience it. Women have more depressive and mixed state episodes than men. Bipolar disorder is the 6th leading cause of disability in the world.
Our diagnosis will shorten our life by 9.2 years than our expected life span. In the general population on one in twelve people will consider suicide in their lifetime. A whopping 80% of those of us with bipolar disorder will do the same. Up to 17% of people with bipolar disorder will take their lives as a result of their illness, making it the #1 cause of premature death in people with this disorder. Women attempt suicide about 3 times more often than men, although men are 4 times as likely to complete suicide. People with bipolar disorder are 2x more likely to attempt suicide than someone with a unipolar disorder. Almost 500,000 people every year seek help at a hospital because of self-harm behavior, but don’t see out help before they make an attempt on their life.
When both parents have bipolar disorder, their child is up to 75% likely to have the mental illness as well. 20% of teens with major depression will develop bipolar disorder five years after the onset of their depression. Out of the 3.4 million children under the age of 18 that are diagnosed with depression in the US, up to 1.1 million of them may actually be suffering from the first stages of early onset bipolar disorder. It can take up to ten years after living with the illness to get an accurate diagnosis of bipolar disorder.
Women are more likely to suffer from depressive episodes than men who are more likely to have manic episodes. People with bipolar disorder are known to have higher anxiety disorder burdens than the general population.
Now that your head is about to explode from information overload, please remember that their are exceptions to every rule. When numbers say this before them like “up to” or “approximately” or “the average” there is a percentage of wiggle room. Do not read this like we have to be in every category. Please, if we could stay away from the suicide info that would make me very happy, dear reader. Maybe our life span will not be shortened. Get it, take all this with a grain of salt.