What is the Life Expectancy of People Living with Bipolar?
People with bipolar disorder are more likely to die young than people without the disorder. They are 6 times more likely to die from external causes, like accidents, violence, and suicide. They are also twice as likely to die from physical causes, like heart disease, cancer, and liver disease. Alcohol is a major factor in many of these deaths.
The study examined data from over 47,000 people with bipolar disorder in Finland. The average age of death for people with bipolar disorder was 50, compared to 77 for people without the disorder.
There are a few reasons why people with bipolar disorder are more likely to die young. One reason is that they are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, like substance abuse and reckless driving. They are also more likely to experience depression, which can lead to suicide.
Another reason is that people with bipolar disorder are more likely to have physical health problems. This is because the disorder can damage the heart, liver, and other organs. Alcohol use can also contribute to physical health problems.
If you have bipolar disorder, it is important to take steps to reduce your risk of early death. This includes getting treatment for the disorder, avoiding risky behaviors, and taking care of your physical health.
Here are 4 tips for reducing your risk of early death if you have bipolar disorder:
- Get treatment for the disorder. This may include medication, therapy, or a combination of both.
- Avoid risky behaviors, like substance abuse and reckless driving.
- Take care of your physical health. This includes eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep.
- Talk to your doctor about your risk of early death. They can help you develop a plan to reduce your risk.
If you or someone you know is struggling with bipolar disorder, please reach out for help. There are many resources available, including:
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
- The Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741
You are not alone. There is help available.
I know this article is completely true, as about 20 years ago I applied for life insurance and disclosed that I had bipolar disorder. My life insurance agent had trouble finding an insurance company that would insure me. When he finally did, instead of paying $100 a month for a 200,000 policy, I am being charged over $200 a month. I asked my agent why,and he said life insurance companies base their prices on actuarial tables, and even though there is not a lot of public research, the actuaries have found that people with bipolar illness are at a much higher risk of dying early than those without it.
BMJ Journal reference: Paljärvi, T., et al. (2023) Cause-specific excess mortality after first diagnosis of bipolar disorder: population-based cohort study. BMJ Mental Health.