By Catherine Datto, MD, MS, AstraZeneca
Each year, more than 5.7 million adults in the U.S. are diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme mood swings with manic highs and depressive lows. The condition can be debilitating, and if symptoms are not adequately controlled, they can have a significant impact on a person’s well-being and relationships.
Since symptoms of bipolar disorder can be difficult to distinguish from other mental illnesses, the disorder can go under-recognized and undertreated. According to a survey conducted by the National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association, 69% of patients with bipolar disorder are misdiagnosed initially and on average, 68% of the patient populations consulted up to four physicians before being properly diagnosed.
Finding the balance between the highs and lows – where patients can feel most like themselves – is important to their health. However, more than one-third of patients could wait 10 years or more to receive a proper diagnosis.With the theme of this year’s Mental Illness Awareness Week observance being “It’s Time to Make a Difference,” we must take this opportunity to educate both health care providers and patients about reaching an appropriate diagnosis and how to properly manage the highs and lows characterized by bipolar disorder.
AstraZeneca believes that public education about both disease states and available therapies is an essential step in the patient pathway to diagnosis and care. During Mental Illness Awareness Week and year round, AstraZeneca is committed to researching and identifying solutions that can help patients manage the highs and lows of bipolar disorder.