When all variations of bipolar disorder, or the entire "bipolar spectrum disorder," are considered, the estimated lifetime prevalence in the general population is approximately 4 percent, investigators report in the Archives of General Psychiatry. Regardless of the classification, the evidence suggests that impairment is often severe and few patients with bipolar disorder receive appropriate treatment. "Fifty percent of patients have had symptoms of bipolar disorder by the time they're in their 20s," lead author Dr. Kathleen R. Merikangas told Reuters Health.
"If we don't recognize the early manifestations of the disease, the degree of impairment at this time of life can lead to major consequences and lifelong disability," she added. Without appropriate diagnosis and treatment during young adulthood, the disorder can interfere with personal relationships, social life, education and job performance.
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