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Nearly 1 in 4 People With Bipolar Disorder Achieve Complete Mental Health
  • Posted June 13, 2024

Nearly 1 in 4 People With Bipolar Disorder Achieve Complete Mental Health

Bipolar disorder doesn't have to be a lifelong challenge, a new study says.

Nearly 1 in 4 people with bipolar disorder wind up achieving complete mental health, researchers found.

Further, more than 2 in 5 become free from bipolar symptoms over time, results show.

"Most research on individuals with bipolar disorder has failed to focus on recovery and optimal functioning,"said senior researcher Esme Fuller-Thomson, a professor at the University of Toronto's Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work.

"We hope that those with the disorder and their loved ones and health professionals will be heartened to learn that that one-quarter of the respondents who previously had bipolar disorder were now thriving and happy or satisfied with their life almost every day,"Fuller-Thomson added in a university news release.

For the study, researchers compared 555 Canadians who'd been diagnosed with bipolar disorder with more than 20,500 people without the mental illness, which involves wild swings between manic and depressive episodes.

To be considered in complete mental health, people had to be free from any mental illness during the past year, including bipolar disorder, depression and substance use disorders. They also had to report almost daily happiness or life satisfaction.

About 24% of people once diagnosed with bipolar disorder had achieved such a state of complete mental health, researchers found.

Also, 43% were free from all bipolar symptoms, results show.

"The presence of a trusted confidant emerged as the most influential factor in achieving complete mental health,"said researcher Ishnaa Gulati, a Master's graduate from the University of Toronto's Dalla Lana School of Public Health. "The adoption of spirituality as a coping mechanism and the absence of chronic pain were also identified as strong predictors for psychological flourishing."

People also were more likely to achieve complete mental health if they were married, older, wealthier and had no lifetime history of drug or alcohol abuse, researchers said.

Unfortunately, the results also showed that suffering from bipolar disorder does cause people to be a step behind those who haven't had it, when it comes to overall mental health.

About three-quarters of people without a history of bipolar disorder were in complete mental health, compared to one-quarter of those who'd had bipolar.

"Even after accounting for various sociodemographic and health factors, individuals with a history of bipolar disorder still face significant challenges in achieving complete mental health compared to those without such a diagnosis,"said lead researcher Melanie Katz, with the University of Toronto's Institute for Life Course and Aging.

The new study was published June 7 in the Journal of Affective Disorders Reports.

Researchers said these findings show that supportive environments, strong social bonds and better coping mechanisms can empower people with bipolar disorder to find their way to recovery. Managing physical health problems like chronic pain also helps.

"Tailored interventions can support this population in achieving not just symptom remission, but overall well-being,"Fuller-Thomson said.

More information

The National Institute of Mental Health has more about bipolar disorder.

SOURCE: University of Toronto, news release, June 11, 2024

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