Suicide isn't causing the majority of premature deaths among bipolar individuals. Strokes, diabetes, and heart and respiratory diseases are the culprits. Researchers combed through 17 studies involving over 300,000 patients and found that bipolar disorder doubles the risk for early death from common medical conditions.
Biological complications are one issue—the illness taxes the immune system and heightens reactions to stress. Lifestyle choices among bipolar individuals, such as binge eating and substance abuse, are gaining recognition as further fatal factors. "Mental health professionals should be counseling patients with these chronic mental illnesses about wellness habits," says study co-author Wayne Katon of the University of Washington.
Medication helps, but may lead to weight gain. However, Katon says medications have several varieties within each class, so doctors can always try prescribing another.
From Outgoing to Manic
Bubbly extroverts are more likely to develop bipolar disorder, according to a new Finnish study.