Formerly called manic-depression, bipolar disorder is a very common and disabling mood disorder that begins early in adulthood and is defined by episodes of depression alternating with episodes of elation and excitement (mania). If diagnosed too late, it may lead to cognitive impairment, emotions dysregulations and/or comorbid somatic disorders. Mood episodes are interspersed with periods during which certain problems may persist, thus needing specific and personalized treatments for example for sleep disturbances, emotional hyper-reactivity, cognitive dysfunctions…
Bipolar disorder is the sixth leading cause of handicap in the world. In its most severe form it affects 1.5% of the population (but probably around 5% if bipolar spectrum disorders are taken into account). It usually takes from eight to ten years between the onset of disorders and its diagnosis – this often leads to irreversible consequences, such as withdrawing from socio-professional and family environments, experiencing great psychological suffering and suicidal tendencies (20% of untreated bipolar patients commit suicide) and engage in risky behaviour (alcoholism, substance abuse, etc.).
Furthermore, persons suffering from bipolar disorder have an increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, metabolic syndrome, because they are not or are inappropriately inadequately treated.
The cost is very significant in terms of suffering for the patient, family and loved ones and in terms of health expenses and social rehabilitation. This enormous burden can be significantly reduced if research was better supported.
Recent studies carried out by Fondation FondaMental indicate that the interaction of a number of factors – genetic, biological and environmental – could be the cause of bipolar disorder and associated conditions.
Treatment of bipolar disorder is generally twofold – medication (during periods of crisis and as a preventive measure) and therapy such as psycho-education, which reduces relapse and re-hospitalisation by 50% as well as other forms of psycho-social treatments such as cognitive remediation, cognitive behaviour psychotherapy, interpersonal social and rhythm treatment..
Ongoing FondaMental research
Expert Centres: Diagnostic platforms
Psychoeducation: Help patients and their families deal with the illness