United States Ranks Highest in Diagnosis of Bipolar

A recent study released this month shows that the United States has a significantly higher amount of reported cases of bipolar when compared to other countries. This new information states that about 2.4% of the entire world population is diagnosed with this mental health issue at one time or another. The United States ranks the highest with a reported figure of 4.4% facing this disorder and India ranks the lowest with less than one tenth of one percent of its population suffering with this illness. According to this study that comprised data from 11 nations, less than half of the people who were diagnosed with bipolar ever sought treatment.

Bipolar manifests in clients differently, but is characterized by mood swings shifting from states of depression to mania. Those suffering from bipolar are at a higher risk for suicide and substance abuse. Although there is treatment available in most countries, less than a quarter of the people in low-income countries receive treatment of any kind.

Bipolar can debilitate a person and significantly impairs their quality of life and their livelihood. Kathleen Merikangas, Ph. D., the study’s lead author and chief of the genetic epidemiology research branch at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland, emphasizes the importance of these findings. She says “It’s very important that we understand the scope and magnitude of this disorder so that we can plan appropriate treamtents, facilitate recognition of diseases, and identify people at risk so we can bring them into treatment.”

She goes on to say, “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.”

© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Michael C. Craven

    Michael C. Craven

    March 10th, 2011 at 10:07 AM

    Thank you for sharing this information. As a divorce attorney it’s my responsibility to understand the mental health of my clients. I am sure this will be useful for me.
    Michael C. Craven
    Chicago Divorce Attorney

  • anne


    March 10th, 2011 at 10:55 PM

    so what are the factors determining bipolar disorders? is this somehow related to the lifestyle?

    it’s really surprising that we are leading in this list and a vast populous nation like India is doing well in this.

  • Lea


    March 12th, 2011 at 5:54 AM

    More bipolar disorder in the states or just higher rates of diagnosis in those who are?

  • Vanessa


    March 13th, 2011 at 7:14 PM

    Despite us claiming America’s the best country in the world, and throwing billions of dollars into healthcare, some of our population continue to display major mental health problems they are refusing to deal with. It can’t always be because they have no insurance to cover the costs, can it?

  • Elliot


    March 15th, 2011 at 8:55 PM

    Even though bipolarism can be highly variable in how it affects your life, especially if your mood swings can make you suicidal or even violent towards others, it is something that’s treatable. It’s not hard to tell if you might have it. Research the symptoms as you would any other condition and if you think it sounds like you, see your doctor.

  • Dan


    March 16th, 2011 at 7:14 PM

    And while we’re #1 in people who can go from laughing to crying at the drop of a hat, people are screaming and protesting about the healthcare reform. I think a facet of the problem is nobody can agree on anything long enough for real support services to be implemented and given time to reach their peak effectiveness.

  • Fraser


    March 16th, 2011 at 8:09 PM

    Perhaps in other countries like India bipolar disorder is simply not recognized for what it is by some doctors and therefore not included in the stats. There are many rural and outlying communities there served by rural doctors.

  • Francine


    March 18th, 2011 at 7:32 AM

    I think the reason treatment’s not sought is related to poverty to a degree. You need the spare cash or you simply can’t afford healthcare, which never has a concrete price tag. Good thing that healthcare reform is coming around. People will finally get some coverage. It’s shameful our citizens can’t rely on their own government to care for the most vulnerable of Americans.

  • joan


    March 18th, 2011 at 9:19 AM

    Mental health care is expensive and important. Compassion should triumph over cost. No-one should be denied it purely because their bank balance can’t cover premiums and sadly, every day it happens. When did monetary concerns become more valid than the welfare of a fellow human being? In the end, money is no more valuable than the value we give it.It’s a piece of paper.

  • Jay


    March 19th, 2011 at 11:27 AM

    @Lea That’s also a major possibility. I’m sure a government with an elitist complex would gladly fudge numbers to make themselves look better compared to other countries. It’s a number’s game to them.

  • LaScala


    March 20th, 2011 at 7:07 AM

    @anne, I don’t think you’ve ever met a soul with bipolar disorder. They can suddenly change mood from one extreme to the next without any pattern or reason whatsoever. It’s not a good thing to live with if one of those extremes is depressive or aggressive. Lifestyle is not a factor as far as I know.

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