Bipolar disorder vastly undertreated: study

CHICAGO Mon Mar 7, 2011 5:49pm EST

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CHICAGO (Reuters) - Bipolar disorder, a brain disorder that strikes early and can cause lifelong disability, is chronically undertreated in many low-income countries, government researchers reported on Monday.

Their survey of more than 61,000 patients suggests 2.4 percent of the world's population may have some form of the disease, which is marked by bizarre shifts in mood, energy and activity that can affect relationships and job performance.

"Bipolar disorder is responsible for the loss of more disability-adjusted life-years than all forms of cancer or major neurologic conditions such as epilepsy and Alzheimer's disease, primarily because of its early onset and chronicity across the life span," Kathleen Merikangas of the National Institute of Mental Health and colleagues wrote in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Her team conducted surveys of adults in the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Bulgaria, Romania, China, India, Japan, Lebanon and New Zealand.

They found that less than half of those with bipolar disorder -- also known as manic-depressive illness -- received mental health treatment during their lifetimes. In low-income countries, only 25.2 percent of bipolar patients said they had any contact with the mental health system.

Three-quarters of those with bipolar disorder also met the diagnostic criteria for at least one other disorder, with anxiety disorders being the most common shared illness, the team found.

More than half of people said their symptoms started in adolescence, underscoring the need for early detection and treatment, the researchers said.

"In light of the disability associated with bipolar disorder, the lack of mental health treatment among those with bipolar disorder, particularly in low income countries, is alarming," the team wrote.

(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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Comments (19)
karojen wrote:
I was undiagnosed until I attempted suicide. I was manic for most of my life and didn’t know it but when I got into my late 30’s the depressions hit. If you have redical mood swings-go to a psychiatrist, and don’t wait until you’re really depressed and irrational.

Mar 07, 2011 6:53pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Mike_88 wrote:
Claim: Keep more level glucose levels and you will be fine.

Note: Glucose is only 50% of white sugar. White sugar bad. Glucose good. They sell glucose tablets at the pharmacy. One quarter tablet in the morning will due you better than a cup of coffee as glucose levels are lowest when you wake up.

Drinkers like the sugar spike and the sugar crash gets you. That is why people feel really good when they drink. It is the glucose from the sugars not the alcohol. Hurting in the morning? Did your glucose levels dive?

Please use responsibly.

Mar 07, 2011 9:49pm EST  --  Report as abuse
4TheNews wrote:
SiegHeilObama – You are a complete idiot. Mental disease is not simply “bad behavior” and your ignorant comment is the type of rhetoric that perpetuates the stigma about mental disease. By the tone of your post, it sounds like you have some anger issues yourself. Maybe you should get some help…see a psychiatrist.

Mar 08, 2011 12:40am EST  --  Report as abuse
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