What are the morbidity and mortality rates for bipolar affective disorder (manic-depressive illness)?

Updated: May 30, 2019
  • Author: Stephen Soreff, MD; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
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Bipolar disorder, or manic-depressive illness (MDI), has significant morbidity and mortality rates. In the United States, during the early part of the 1990s, the cost of lost productivity resulting from this disorder was estimated at approximately $15.5 billion annually. Approximately 25-50% of individuals with bipolar disorder attempt suicide, and 11% successfully commit suicide.

Additionally, a 2011 study from the United Kingdom suggested that for patients with bipolar disorder, mortality 1 year after hospital discharge was also higher than that of the general population for natural causes, chiefly respiratory and circulatory disorders. [64]

Patients with BPI fare worse than patients with a major depression. Within the first 2 years after the initial episode, 40-50% of these patients experience another manic attack. Only 50-60% of patients with BPI who are on lithium gain control of their symptoms. In 7% of these patients, symptoms do not recur, 45% of patients experience more episodes, and 40% go on to have a persistent disorder. Often, the cycling between depression and mania accelerates with age.

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