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Bipolar disorder:Epidemiology

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The lifetime prevalence rate of Bipolar Disorder I and II is thought to be between 0.6 and 2% of the population[1]. Bipolar I disorder is gender-neutral, affecting both women and men equally, according to the DSM. Bipolar II is found more frequently in women[2]. No publication to date has suggested that there is a difference between races in the prevalence of bipolar disorder.

Most frequently, the disorder starts with a depression, and mania or hypomania follows. In the vast majority of cases, the symptoms begin in early adulthood, and continue over the course of the lifespan. There are some occurrences of a single manic episode followed by full recovery with no recurrence; however, these cases are rare enough to suggest some other confounding factors.

For many years it was believed that the bipolar profile emerged in late adolescence and/or young adulthood. Recent research by the National Institute of Mental Health suggests that even young children can suffer from bipolar symptoms or precursors.NIMH Roundtable These precursors can include acute anxiety or panic attacks. Although there is no specific official diagnostic category for this pre-adolescent patient profile, it is often called "pediatric bipolar disorder".

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