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A large study looked at the excess mortality of people with bipolar disorder. Alcohol and suicide are the main culprits.

Bipolar disorders affect between 1% and 2.5% of the population, i.e. between 650,000 and 1,650,000 people in France. This chronic mental illness (whose first symptoms generally appear between the ages of 15 and 25) is characterized by an alternation of euphoric phases and intense depressive phases.

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According to the FondaMental Foundation, patients with bipolar disorders have a reduced life expectancy of 10 years on average compared to the general population. Exactly: a new study (carried out jointly by Finnish, Danish, Swedish and British researchers) looked at the risk of premature death in bipolar patients.

To do this, the researchers studied medical data collected in Finland between 2004 and 2018: these related to 47,018 people with bipolar disorder, and aged 15 to 64 at the start of the observation period.

Excessive alcohol consumption and drug suicide risk

In the space of 14 years, 3300 people (or 7% of the group studied) died: by relating this statistic to the general population, the researchers therefore estimate that bipolar disorders multiply by 6 the risk of premature death. The mean age at death was 50; men were more affected than women (they account for 65% of deaths).

Among the causes of death identified, the researchers note a preponderance of pathologies linked to excessive alcohol consumption (especially hepatic disorders, therefore in the liver). Then come cardiovascular problems (with cerebrovascular accident or stroke in mind), cancers, respiratory disorders and diabetes.

On the side of “external” causes of death, scientists point out that many people (740 deaths out of 3300) killed themselves with their own drugs.

This work underlines the importance of therapeutic education (particularly with regard to alcohol) and suicide prevention in people with bipolar disorder.“conclude the authors.


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