Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bipolar Spectrum Disorder May Be Underrecognized And Improperly Treated

Date:
May 10, 2007
Source:
NIH/National Institute of Mental Health
Summary:
A new study supports earlier estimates of the prevalence of bipolar disorder in the US population, and suggests the illness may be more accurately characterized as a spectrum disorder. It also finds that many people with the illness are not receiving appropriate treatment.

A new study supports earlier estimates of the prevalence of bipolar disorder in the U.S. population, and suggests the illness may be more accurately characterized as a spectrum disorder. It also finds that many people with the illness are not receiving appropriate treatment. The study, published in the May 2007 issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, analyzed data from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R), a nationwide survey of mental disorders among 9,282 Americans ages 18 and older.

Related Articles


NIMH researcher Kathleen Merikangas, Ph.D. and colleagues identified prevalence rates of three subtypes of bipolar spectrum disorder among adults. Bipolar I is considered the classic form of the illness, in which a person experiences recurrent episodes of mania and depression. People with bipolar II experience a milder form of mania called hypomania that alternates with depressive episodes.

People with bipolar disorder not otherwise specified (BD-NOS), sometimes called subthreshold bipolar disorder, have manic and depressive symptoms as well, but they do not meet strict criteria for any specific type of bipolar disorder noted in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), the reference manual for psychiatric disorders. Nonetheless, BD-NOS still can significantly impair those who have it.

The results indicate that bipolar I and bipolar II each occur in about 1 percent of the population; BD-NOS occurs in about 2.4 percent of the population. The findings support international studies suggesting that, given its multi-dimensional nature, bipolar disorder may be better characterized as a spectrum disorder.

"Bipolar disorder can manifest itself in several different ways. But regardless of type, the illness takes a huge toll," said NIMH Director Thomas R. Insel, M.D. "The survey's findings reiterate the need for a more refined understanding of bipolar symptoms, so we can better target treatment."

Most respondents with bipolar disorder reported receiving treatment. Nearly everyone who had bipolar I or II (89 to 95 percent) received some type of treatment, while 69 percent of those with BD-NOS were getting treatment. Those with bipolar I or II were more commonly treated by psychiatric specialists, while those with BD-NOS were more commonly treated by general medical professionals.

However, not everyone received treatment considered optimal for bipolar disorder. Up to 97 percent of those who had some type of bipolar illness said they had coexisting psychiatric conditions, such as anxiety, depression or substance abuse disorders, and many were in treatment for those conditions rather than bipolar disorder.

The researchers found that many were receiving medication treatment considered "inappropriate" for bipolar disorder, e.g., they were taking an antidepressant or other psychotropic medication in the absence of a mood stabilizing medication such as lithium, valproate, or carbamazepine. Only about 40 percent were receiving appropriate medication, considered a mood stabilizer, anticonvulsant or antipsychotic medication.

"Such a high rate of inappropriate medication use among people with bipolar spectrum disorder is a concern," said Dr. Merikangas. "It is potentially dangerous because use of an antidepressant without the benefit of a mood stabilizer may actually worsen the condition."

Merikangas and colleagues speculate that as people seek treatment for anxiety, depression or substance abuse disorders, their doctors, especially if they are not mental health specialists, may not be detecting an underlying bipolar condition in their patients."Because bipolar spectrum disorder commonly coexists with other illnesses, it is likely underrecognized, and therefore, undertreated. We need better screening tools and procedures for identifying bipolar spectrum disorder, and work with clinicians to help them better spot these bipolar symptoms," concluded Dr. Merikangas.

The NCS-R was funded by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

Reference: Merikangas KR, et al. Lifetime and 12-Month Prevalence of Bipolar Spectrum Disorder in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Archives of General Psychiatry. May 2007; 64.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NIH/National Institute of Mental Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NIH/National Institute of Mental Health. "Bipolar Spectrum Disorder May Be Underrecognized And Improperly Treated." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 May 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070507183819.htm>.
NIH/National Institute of Mental Health. (2007, May 10). Bipolar Spectrum Disorder May Be Underrecognized And Improperly Treated. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070507183819.htm
NIH/National Institute of Mental Health. "Bipolar Spectrum Disorder May Be Underrecognized And Improperly Treated." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070507183819.htm (accessed March 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AP (Mar. 25, 2015) While distracted driving is not a new problem for teens, new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says it&apos;s much more serious than previously thought. (March 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 25, 2015) European researchers say our smartphone use offers scientists an ideal testing ground for human brain plasticity. Dr Ako Ghosh&apos;s team discovered that the brains and thumbs of smartphone users interact differently from those who use old-fashioned handsets. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Many Don't Know They Have Alzheimer's, But Their Doctors Do

Many Don't Know They Have Alzheimer's, But Their Doctors Do

Newsy (Mar. 24, 2015) According to a new study by the Alzheimer&apos;s Association, more than half of those who have the degenerative brain disease aren&apos;t told by their doctors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Quick 45-Minute Nap Can Improve Your Memory

A Quick 45-Minute Nap Can Improve Your Memory

Newsy (Mar. 23, 2015) Researchers found those who napped for 45 minutes to an hour before being tested on information recalled it five times better than those who didn&apos;t. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins