The Economic Burden of Bipolar Disease

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This article reviews the prevalence of bipolar disorder, as well as the studies quantifying the burden of illness and cost of illness of this condition. It also discusses barriers to treatment. Multiple epidemiologic studies suggest a lifetime prevalence of bipolar I disorder of nearly 1%, making it a common illness. Bipolar illness is not only common, but for those affected, it is a significant source of distress, disability, loss of life through suicide, and burden on relatives and other caregivers. In 1990, the World Health Organization identified bipolar disorder as the sixth leading cause of disability-adjusted life years in the world among people aged 15 to 44 years. Costs to society appear to be roughly 70% of those for schizophrenia. Despite the burden imposed by bipolar illness and the availability of several effective treatments for the illness, many bipolar patients in the United States continue to face significant barriers to care.

J Clin Psychiatry 2000;61(suppl 13):38-41