Are suicide rates higher in people with bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness that affects about 2.8% of US adults. Its main symptoms are mood swings, which include episodes of mania and depression.

People living with bipolar disorder have an increased risk of suicide compared to the general population. search suggestions up to 20% of people with bipolar disorder die by suicide, especially if untreated. A larger percentage, around 20% to 60%, will attempt suicide at least once in their lifetime.

Bipolar disorder can be debilitating, but the condition can be treated. Emotional support, medication, and therapy can help improve quality of life, relieve symptoms, and reduce the risk of suicide.

Read on to learn more about the connection between bipolar disorder and suicide, how to recognize signs of a mental health crisis, and steps to take to prevent it.

According to that National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH), an estimated 4.4% of people will experience bipolar disorder in their lifetime. Each year, approximately 2.8% of people age 18 and older in the United States are diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

The condition can range from moderate to severe, but about 82% of people with bipolar disorder have a severe form enough to significantly affect their quality of life.

Living with bipolar disorder puts you at a higher risk of suicide, especially if you don’t receive active treatment or adequate support.

A Review 2019 of studies reported that people with bipolar disorder are 10 to 30 times more likely to die by suicide than the general population. The authors found that particularly in untreated bipolar disorder, up to 20% of people die by suicide and 20 to 60% attempt suicide at least once.

Other mental health disorders include a risk of suicide, including major depression. Still, bipolar disorder carries a higher risk of suicide than even major depression. are people with bipolar disorder twice as likely die by suicide than people with major depression.

Aside from not being treated, they are there certain risk factors that make someone with bipolar disorder more likely to attempt suicide or die.

These include:

The longer term bipolar disorder remains untreated after diagnosis, the higher the risk of suicide. Seeking medical help and managing your bipolar disorder can significantly reduce your risk of suicide and is the most important thing you can do to stay healthy and safe.

People living with bipolar disorder tend to cycle between mood states, which can include mania, hypomania, and depression. Between these episodes there are so-called periods of relatively stable mood euthymia.

There are two main types of bipolar disorder: Bipolar 1 and Bipolar 2. Bipolar 1 includes more severe episodes of mania and depression. People with Bipolar 2 experience a more subdued form of mania called hypomania along with depression.

Here’s a simple breakdown:

Bipolar disorder shares some symptoms with other mental illnesses, and it’s common for people to be misdiagnosed at first. For example, one study found that an estimate 37% of people with bipolar disorder were first diagnosed with depression. schizophrenia is also a potential misdiagnosis in people with bipolar disorder.

The symptoms of bipolar disorder vary from person to person. Although the two main mood states of the disorder are mania and depression, some people also experience mixed episodes. In mixed episodes, features of both mania and depression are present.

manic episodes

mania can look the following:

  • feeling high and excitable, having more energy than usual
  • feeling irritable or angry
  • less need for sleepinsomnia
  • racing thoughts or speech
  • in rare cases, psychosis or hallucinations

These episodes can create an inflated sense of invincibility and self-esteem, leading to reckless decisions. While mania is often associated with contributing to “creative genius,” untreated mania is should not be romanticizedas it can be very dangerous.

Hypomania manifests as a more subdued form of these symptoms and can be harder to spot. Hypomania can feel like you’re more energetic or productive than usual.

depressive episodes

That depressive phase Bipolar disorder is not just about feeling sad or tired. It’s natural to feel down sometimes in response to troubling life events or bad days, but depression refers to a more serious condition.

In bipolar disorder, depressive episodes can include:

  • feeling hopeless
  • Depression, low self-esteem
  • Difficulty concentrating, lack of interest in hobbies or activities
  • isolate yourself, avoid friends and family
  • Difficulty taking care of yourself and your space
  • thoughts of death, dying or suicide (suicidal thoughts)
  • engage in forms of self-harm

There are several treatment options for bipolar disorder. The gold standard is a combination of medication and therapy. An emotional support network is also key to long-term stability and helps you stick to a treatment plan.

  • Medication. Most people with bipolar disorder need to take medication to manage their symptoms. Some people need to take more than one, and it may take multiple tries to find a drug that works for you. Often required medication contain:
    • Mood stabilizers, most commonly lithium
    • atypical antipsychotics
    • Drugs for sleep and anxiety
    • antidepressants may be prescribed during a depressive episode
  • Therapy. There are several types of therapy to treat bipolar disorder, including:
  • Lifestyle Changes. Adjusting your habits and schedule may be necessary to improve your overall health, which affects mood. This includes a balanced diet, adequate sleep and being physically active.

Bipolar disorder is a chronic condition, which means it requires lifelong treatment.

While your treatment needs may change, it’s important not to suddenly stop medication or therapy because you’re “feeling better.” This can lead to a mental crisis. For people with bipolar disorder, consistency is key to staying stable and safe.

Seeking care and sticking to your care plan is the best prevention against further manic and depressive episodes and against suicidal thoughts.

These measures contain:

  • Creating and maintaining a strong emotional support network
  • Keep in touch with your doctors and other healthcare professionals even when you are feeling stable
  • Regular attendance at all doctor and psychiatrist appointments
  • Take medication as directed
  • Practicing healthy lifestyle habits, including proper sleep hygiene and exercise
  • Let your care team know about changes in your mood or worrisome new symptoms

Treating bipolar disorder doesn’t guarantee you won’t have mood episodes, although treatment can reduce their severity. There may be times when you have a mental health crisis and need immediate help.

Pay attention to your mood and reach out to your doctors and support network if you’re feeling overwhelmed or unsure. Remember, you are not alone and help is available.

Understanding the characteristics of manic, hypomanic, and depressive episodes can help you or your loved one spot a possible flare-up. Some people find it helpful to keep a journal of their symptoms to identify worrisome patterns.

If you think you or someone you care about with bipolar disorder is having thoughts of harming themselves, it is imperative that you seek help right away.

This can include:

  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Contact the therapist or psychiatrist you work with
  • Call an ambulance or have a loved one take you to the hospital for a check-up

If you think someone is about to commit suicide, don’t leave them alone. Make sure they don’t have access to any means of harming themselves or others. This may mean removing medication or weapons from the area.

People with bipolar disorder have a higher risk of committing and completing suicide than the general population. This is especially true for people with untreated bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition, but it can be treated effectively. Seeking care and maintaining a consistent treatment plan—including medications, therapy, and certain lifestyle changes—is the best tool for suicide prevention.

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