Bipolar Disorder Statistics: How Many People Does It Affect?
Updated August 28, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Kimberly L Brownridge , LPC, NCC, BCPC Counsel The Mind, LLC
Bipolar disorder is among the most prevalent mental health conditions that people can be affected by. In this article, you learn about how many people with bipolar disorder are in the United States, along with many other useful statistics that you should be aware of and how to treat bipolar disorder.
Bipolar Disorder In The United States
In this section, you will learn about various bipolar disorder statistics exclusive to the United States and the groups that make up its population.
Each year it is estimated that around 5.7 million adult Americans are struggling with bipolar disorder. This equates to about 2.6 percent of the adult population. Approximately 4.4 percent of them will develop this disorder at some point in their lives.  
The majority of those diagnosed with bipolar disorder are within the 18 to 29 range, followed by those 30 to 44, then the 45 to 59 years of age. Nearly 83 percent of adults in the U.S. will experience severe impairment from the disorder. 
Although the median age of onset for bipolar disorder is about 25 years old, the condition can appear at any age, and it is quite common among those aged 13 to 18 years old.
The adolescent group rivals the adults in terms of percentages. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, around 2.9 percent of adolescents had bipolar disorder. 
However, because there aren’t as many adolescents as there are adults in the U.S., naturally, there will be fewer numbers overall.
In Men & Women
Males and females in the United States suffer from bipolar disorder at the same rates, which are at 2.9 and 2.8 percent, respectively. 
On the other hand, women are more likely to experience rapid cycling, which are frequent mood changes consisting of 4 or more mania and depression episodes each year, and may have more mixed episodes or periods of depression than men. Bipolar can also appear during pregnancies or following the birth of a child.
Therefore, even though the figures are very close between males and females, it can present themselves and affect others differently.
Over two-thirds of the population will have a relative who may have one of the types of bipolar disorder or unilateral depression, which illustrates how common this mental health issue is.  Bipolar disorder is heritable, and the odds of getting it increases depending on your parents.
For instance, if you have one parent with the condition, the risk of inheriting and developing bipolar later in life is around 15 to 30 percent. If both parents have it, it increases to 50 to 75 percent. 
In Ethnic Groups & Social Classes
Bipolar affects people of all backgrounds equally; no group is more probable than the other to get the condition. As far as current research goes, only those who have a family history of bipolar are primarily at risk. 
However, those in better financial situations and have access to adequate healthcare and psychological services are more likely to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Lower-income areas can be correlated to a lack of education towards mental health topics, which can lead to people going untreated because of a lack of access to the support they need or the stigmas surrounding mental disorders.
Additional Bipolar Disorder Statistics
Like depression and anxiety, bipolar disorder isn’t just a concern in the United States. As you read on, you’ll learn about how it affects everyone collectively as well as health and treatment statistics.
Bipolar Disorder Around The World
As of 2017, it was estimated that 46 million, or about 0.6 percent of the entire world population, has bipolar disorder.  Keep in mind, this value may be actually much higher due to many areas of the world having a lack of mental health resources or stigmatization of it, and therefore, fewer diagnoses in these areas.
Despite this, bipolar disorder is the sixth leading cause of disability in the world. 
In regards to statistics in developed countries, approximately 240,000 in Australia, 725,000 in the United Kingdom, 390,000 in Canada, 810,000 in Iran, and nearly a million in Germany have bipolar disorder. These numbers are dependent on population, and the most populous nations, India and China, are believed to have up to 15 million people with bipolar disorder. 
Bipolar Disorder & Other Health Issues
Aside from the difficulties that come with this mental health issue, bipolar disorder is connected to several other health problems. One of the main ones is the risk of substance abuse, as those with the condition are more likely to use drugs and alcohol to cope with their symptoms. 
Bipolar disorder is also associated with other chronic physical illnesses. People who have the condition are three times more prone to developing diabetes at some point, and 35% of patients are obese. It also increases their chances of succumbing to cardiovascular diseases or a stroke. 
Overall, the condition, on average, cuts off around nine years from a person’s expected lifespan, and suicide has a significant role in this statistic. Unfortunately, around 1 in 5 people with bipolar disorder will attempt and carry out suicide. 
Bipolar & Treatment Statistics
Despite the severity of bipolar and the risks discussed in the previous section, it is highly treatable, and most people with bipolar disorder see success when reaching out for help. However, the management of this condition will be a lifelong endeavor.
Success rates for lithium, a mood stabilizer that is one of the primary medications for bipolar disorder can range from anywhere to 40 to 85%, and 9 out of 10 patients have reported that they have been satisfied with the medications that they’ve been prescribed, even with side-effects.  Other prescriptions that may be used to manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder are antidepressants and antipsychotics.
In addition to medication, those who choose to participate in psychotherapy have shown excellent results when combining the two. Cognitive-Behavior Therapy (CBT) is a prevalent and highly successful type of psychotherapy that can be used on various mental health conditions, including bipolar disorder, and earlier studies have shown that it can reduce depressive symptoms by up to 7 percent and can reduce the risk of relapsing by around 60 percent. 
Support groups are also another useful tool that you can use to connect with others who are also struggling with bipolar disorder. Attending these groups and knowing that you’re not alone and having other people in your corner has shown to increase treatment compliance by around 86 percent. 
When patients are satisfied and happy with their treatment, it assures them that they can cope with the condition and look forward to the future.
How To Get Help For Bipolar Disorder
Although bipolar disorder is treatable, it is underdiagnosed. A lot of this can be attributed to misdiagnosis because of the episodes that people with bipolar disorder can face as well as the mixture of symptoms.
Gender biases when it comes to diagnoses do exist. For example, women are more likely to receive a diagnosis for major depression, whereas males are more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia.  This is because psychosis can occur in bipolar disorder, especially in a manic episode.
Therefore, even though the prognosis for bipolar disorder is quite good, you must discuss with your doctor or psychiatrist the history of what you’ve been experiencing since the symptoms of bipolar disorder can change over time, and there are different types of it as well. Many medical professionals will mistakenly focus on the symptoms that are currently happening at the moment, and this is what leads to misdiagnoses.
This diagnosis is crucial for getting the right kinds of medication that you need to get better. Someone with a misdiagnosis of major depression most likely won’t get the mood stabilizers required to treat bipolar disorder optimally.
Therapy for bipolar disorder is very accessible, and you have the option to attend in-person sessions, or you can benefit from online sessions. Both are equally effective, and it’s a matter of preference.
However, online therapy offers a lot of extra conveniences, and it’s affordable. At BetterHelp, you can find a licensed and professional therapist experienced in treating people with bipolar disorder and attend from the comfort of your own home, eliminating the need to travel anywhere. Scheduling appointments is flexible, and signing up and getting started is just a click away!
The bipolar disorder statistics may be alarming, but awareness is crucial in getting people involved and helping others get the help that they need. Bipolar disorder can be managed, and it will take work not only on the individual’s part but also from friends and family who can offer support. The most important statistic to take away here is that getting your life back from bipolar disorder is in your favor, and you can have a brighter future.
- Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. (2020). Bipolar Disorder Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.dbsalliance.org/education/bipolar-disorder/bipolar-disorder-statistics/
- National Institute of Mental Health. (2017, November). Bipolar Disorder Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/bipolar-disorder.shtml
- Bipolar Lives. (2019, October 9). Bipolar disorder statistics. Retrieved from https://www.bipolar-lives.com/bipolar-disorder-statistics.html
- Ritchie, H., & Roser, M. (2018, January 20). Mental Health. Retrieved from https://ourworldindata.org/mental-health
- Juergens, J. (2019, December 5). Bipolar Disorder and Addiction. Retrieved from https://www.addictioncenter.com/addiction/bipolar-disorder/
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