How Common Is Bipolar Disorder

2013 Bipolar Update

How Common Is Bipolar Disorder

Before answering the question how common is bipolar disorder, we need to know exactly what the disease is. Bipolar disorder is basically a mental illness that is characterized by cycling mood swings. A person’s mood will cycle from mania or hypomania to depression. Bipolar disorder was previously referred to as manic depression due to the mixture of manic and depressive episodes.

So exactly how common is bipolar disorder? The answer to this question is that bipolar disorder is more common than most people think. Due to the social stigma that is typically associated with mental illnesses and disorders, a number of individuals do not seek treatment which is a serious mistake as it will only get worse. This brings the number of cases reported down drastically from what they really are.

How common is bipolar disorder in adults? The National Institute of Mental Health (NIHM) estimates that about 1% of adults (people over 18 years old) suffer from bipolar disorder. This means that at least 2 million American adults are affected by this mood disorder. However, study done by researchers from the Harvard Medical School suggests that the number of bipolar disorder sufferers is closer to 5% which would make the figure much higher.

How common is bipolar disorder in adolescents? Bipolar disorder quite commonly develops in late adolescence. However, there are some reported cases of early onset bipolar disorder. Adolescents suffering from bipolar disorder may be thought to just be suffering from depression, which is not uncommon among teenagers. At times many teens suffer from chronic depression, and with the nature of bipolar II disorder (a person may suffer more depressive episodes with minor manic episodes or hypomania), it is no wonder that they may get misdiagnosed.

How common is bipolar disorder in children? Bipolar disorder in children is thought to be quite rare and is called childhood onset bipolar disorder (COBPD). However, it is not uncommon to find cases of misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder in children. It is suspected that a number of children diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) could actually be suffering from early onset bipolar disorder. This is because both these disorders exhibit similar symptoms in children such as hyperactivity, decreased need for sleep, temper tantrums, easily distracted, restlessness, aggressiveness, grandiose behavior and irritability.

There is no official list of symptoms to look for in children in order to make a bipolar diagnosis and doctors are still using the DSM-IV criteria which lists adult symptoms. However, there are certain symptoms you should look out for in children. These symptoms include vocal tics, motor tics, learning disabilities, hyper sexuality, obsessive behavior, manipulative behavior, compulsive behavior, destructive behavior, bed wetting (particularly in boys), poor short term memory and disorganization.

How common is bipolar disorder between the sexes? This disorder is said to equally affect both men and women. However, it has been proven that people with a parent of sibling with bipolar disorder are more likely to suffer from the illness.