Dr. B's Blog

Bipolar disorder vastly undertreated

Reuters reports on an issue that has been troubling me for some time: the under-treatment of serious mental health conditions. Along with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder is responsible for a phenomenon called downward social drift that we see occur as a result of major mental illness.

Bipolar disorder is responsible for the loss of more disability-adjusted life-years than all forms of cancer or major neurologic conditions such as epilepsy and Alzheimer's disease, primarily because of its early onset and chronicity across the life span," Kathleen Merikangas of the National Institute of Mental Health and colleagues wrote in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

I think the Affordable Care Act will help in this respect since we may be able to see a time when one's health insurance isn't tied to being employed at a place that offers benefits. It would be very difficult for someone with a condition like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia left under/untreated to hold a full-time job long enough to get benefits. It happens far too frequently and with the mental illness untreated, the likelihood of holding a job with benefits decreased. It's an awful cycle and one that does not end well for anyone - the sufferer or society at large.