This page is for informational purposes only — if you need help for bipolar disorder, please contact Vertava Health to connect with a professional and receive individualized treatment and support today.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about 4.4 percent of the people in the U.S. will experience bipolar disorder at some point during their lifetime.

The dramatic mood and energy shifts experienced by people with bipolar disorder can have severe impacts on quality of life and health, but treatment and support is available.

Prevalence Of Bipolar Disorder

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports:

  • approximately 2.8 percent of U.S. adults had bipolar disorder in the past year
  • about 82.9 percent of people with bipolar disorder had “serious impairment,” which greatly affects quality of life; about 17.1
  • percent had moderate impairment
  • 4.4 percent of U.S. residents will experience bipolar disorder in their lifetimes

Bipolar Disorder In Men And Women

Bipolar disorder is experienced at similar rates by men and women. NIMH reports that approximately 2.9 percent of men and 2.8 percent of women are diagnosed with bipolar disorder each year. However, women may experience more periods of rapid mood cycling than men.

Bipolar Disorder In Specific Populations

The incidence of people with bipolar disorder who are diagnosed with bipolar disorders I and II decreases with age, according to Harvard Medical School’s National Comorbidity Survey (NSC):

  • about 7 percent of people age 18-29 will be diagnosed with bipolar disorder
  • 5.3 percent of people ages 30-44 will be diagnosed with bipolar disorder
  • 3.7 percent of people ages 45-59 will be diagnosed with bipolar disorder
  • only 1.3 percent of people over age 60 will be diagnosed with bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder affects men, women, ethnic groups and social classes at roughly equivalent rates. However, studies have shown disparities in diagnosis and treatment between African Americans, Latinx, and Asian people and whites who are diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Understanding The Facts: Types Of Bipolar Disorders

National health statistics combine Bipolar I and Bipolar II disorders. According to Harvard’s National Comorbidity Survey:

  • approximately 4.4 percent of the population will be diagnosed with either Bipolar I or Bipolar II disorder at some time during their lifetime.
  • about 2.5 percent of the population will be diagnosed with dysthymic disorder or dysthymia during their lifetime.

A follow-up analysis of the National Comorbidity Survey found that people with bipolar disorder can be on a spectrum of conditions and diagnosis.

The survey identified lifetime prevalence of 1 percent for Bipolar I disorder, 1.1 percent for Bipolar II disorder, and 2.4 percent for disorders below the diagnostic threshold for these two diagnoses (including dysthymia and non-specific bipolar disorder).

Bipolar Disorder And The Rate Of Co-Occurring Conditions

Bipolar disorder can reduce life expectancy by an average of 9.2 years, and one in five people diagnosed with bipolar disorder contemplates suicide.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports:

  • between 30 and over 50 percent of people with bipolar disorder will develop a substance use disorder (SUD) during their lifetime.
  • the majority of people with bipolar disorder also have co-occurring behavioral health disorders, including anxiety disorders
  • like generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

The National Institute on Mental Health says:

  • people with bipolar disorder can experience psychosis, especially while experiencing mania or a manic mood cycle
  • Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is another potential co-occurring condition
  • people with bipolar disorder may also be at greater risk of an eating disorder, including anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder

Global Impact Of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is the sixth leading cause of disability in the world.

The World Health Organization reports that bipolar disorder affects about 45 million people worldwide, and between 76 and 85 percent of people with behavioral/mental health disorders in low- and moderate-income countries do not receive treatment or care.