Bipolar Disorder Infographic and Stats

Posted on May 13, 2012 by


I’m a huge fan of infographics. I have a big collection of them on a pinterest board (you’d think I’d have better things to do with my time–which I do. But my daughter has introduced me to the time-drain of social media–and, fortunately, manages some of its more peripheral details [aka pinterest boards]).

Infographics do in an image the job of a list of statistics (which you might have noticed I’m not averse to, either–in fact both in one post make me so happy I think I might as well go home for the day).

So I invite you to peruse the Bipolar Disorder Infograph. It may not be earth-shattering, but there may also be a piece or two of information you didn’t know before. It doesn’t take but a moment.

And. . .well, I have something I want to say, but it’s pre-chewing it for you. Let’s meet on the other side.

Wasn’t I good? I didn’t interrupt you once.

But I can’t in good conscience let it end there, with how wonderful it is to be bipolar.

Because, in fact, many creative people were indeed bipolar–although many, many bipolar people are not creative in their manic phase, only self-destructive and out-of-control. And to romanticize the illness does no one any good.

For aside from its ‘creative’ sufferers who paid the ultimate price (think Ernest Hemingway or Virginia Woolf, for example), the statistics on the realities of bipolar disorder are painful, but it’s important we all know them, to know what we as a society are fighting.

An online survey (released in 2009) was commissioned by the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare and AstraZeneca and studied over 2000 participants. It found the following (ready for a list of statistics?):

  • 89% of participants had canceled social engagements because of bipolar depression.
  • 73% reported that the disorder impacted their ability to manage housework, while
  • 59% said it affected their ability to run errands.

Other perhaps unknown facts about bipolar disorder (BD):

There are several types of the disorder:

  • Bipolar I has the most severe mood swings, from manic euphoria to crippling depression;
  • Bipolar II is a milder form, often involving hypomanic, or lesser manic, phases, alternating with depression;
  • Cyclothymic disorder involves even less severe poles of mania and depression;
  • Mixed Bipolar Disorder involves the patient experiencing mania and depression at the same time, in an uncomfortable co-existence; and
  • Rapid-cycling Bipolar Disorder is defined by the experience of four or more mood episodes that occur within a 12-month period [some people even get the swings within a single day].

More  facts:

  • It is estimated that as much as 50% of the bipolar population struggles with drugs and alcohol.
  • There is still a lingering debate among mental health professionals about whether antidepressants should be used to treat bipolar depression, both because some research has shown them to be useless, and because they might be responsible for ‘switching,’ igniting a manic episode.
  • The average age of onset is 25 years old, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
  • The illness is the sixth leading cause of disability in the world (WHO).
  • A male’s first episode is most likely to be a manic one, while a female is most likely to first experience the depressive phase.
  • Bipolar people have more heart problems than the rest of the population. They also have more headaches, particularly migraines.
  • The U.S. was found to have the highest bipolar rate in an 11-nation study, at 4.4%. India was found to have the lowest, with 0.1%. [See]
  • Lithium manages mood swings for around 60% of the bipolar population.
  • Secondary mood stabilizers were originally used for treating epilepsy.

And. . .despite some words of doom and gloom, there are many, many high-functioning people out there with bipolar disorder–you find them in life, at work, on the web.

I was touched by both the title and a post on the blog “bipolarandsuccessful” and its piece on “Bipolar and Successful Support Group“–a place to meet and get together with other, well, successful bipolar people.

Because despite the pain and suffering that go with it, despite the statistics that can be daunting, many people have gone on to make wonderful lives for themselves–not highly creative, manic lives, just regular, productive, pleasurable ones.

Bipolar Disorder is a serious diagnosis to receive, and must be treated as one–but it is not the end of hope.

Learned a lot? Test your general knowledge with a few questions to keep your bipolar toes.