Can Bipolar Disorder Reduce Life Expectancy? | Explore The Mysterious Link!
Living with mental health disorders comes with unique sets of challenges; sometimes they give us a sense of euphoria, while other times, they make us feel dissatisfied with our lives. As someone who’s lived with (and still does live with) depression and has survived suicide attempts in the past, I can tell you with confidence how difficult it can be to have hope in oneself; hoping to fight one more day, hoping to not give up.
One such disorder that can make your life a living rollercoaster of emotions is bipolar disorder. The challenges that come with living with bipolar disorder can go beyond mental and emotional. One aspect that has retained the attention of psychologists and researchers alike is the link between bipolar disorder and longevity.
Periodic presence of mania and depression, in bipolar disorder, can make it difficult to have a healthy and functioning lifestyle. Moreover, other factors that are present in bipolar can reduce one’s life expectancy and cause a decline in physical health.
Longevity and Bipolar Disorder: The Link
Numerous studies, over the years, have studied the mortality rates that have been associated with bipolar disorder, revealing a shocking trend of premature death. In a report published in Psychiatric Times, it was said that people diagnosed with bipolar disorder are at an increased risk of premature death compared to others.
The reasons behind this mysterious revelation are quite multi-faceted, involving lifestyle factors and connatural challenges that come with managing and living with bipolar disorder.
The researchers found that people with bipolar tend to have shorter life spans. On average, living with bipolar can shorten about 13 years of one’s life. This reduction in life expectancy is more prevalent in men, and some differences depend on various regions. In perspective, a study on schizophrenia found a similar impact on life span, with an average loss of almost 14 years.
The factors of this reduced life expectancy can include natural causes and incidents like suicides. These instances highlight the importance of addressing the impacts of bipolar on mental health, such as the increased risk of suicide, but also focusing on the physical health of people diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Note that these conclusions are based on a limited number of studies, and are considered inconclusive.
Can Bipolar Disorder Reduce Life Expectancy?
The delicate relationship between bipolar disorder and longevity can be due to various factors. Some of the factors that can impact the life expectancy of a person with bipolar disorder include;
- High blood pressure
- Type II diabetes
- Cardiovascular diseases
In a 2015 study, it was found that there is an increased risk of heart-related deaths in people with bipolar disorder compared to the general population. Moreover, suicide is the highest contributing factor when it comes to the reduced life expectancy in bipolar. Studies suggest that suicide rates are higher in people with mental health conditions, going 10 times higher. In severe cases, the risk can be 30 times higher, too!
How to Live a Long Life With Bipolar Disorder?
So, can you live a long life with bipolar? Despite its many challenges, there are proactive things you can do to enhance your well-being and better your lifestyle. Some tips to help you live a long life with bipolar can include;
Sticking to your prescribed medications can help stabilize your mood, including the risk of severe episodes that can negatively affect your physical and mental health.
2. Practicing an Active Lifestyle:
You can also engage in regular physical activities to benefit your mental and physical health. This can help mitigate the risks that are commonly associated with a sedentary lifestyle. You can take care of what you eat as well. The food you consume can influence your mood as well.
3. Get Enough Sleep:
Having a sleep routine can also help prevent the risks and aid in your longer lifespan. Sleep disturbances can impact your mood episodes and negatively affect your brain functions. So try to improve your sleep and get at least 7–8 hours of sleep each night.
4. Manage Your Stress:
Practices such as relaxation techniques, mindfulness, and other stress management techniques can help you cope with the challenges that come with bipolar disorder. Practicing stress management can promote positive mental and physical health, reducing the risk of reduced life expectancy.
5. Regular Doctor Visitation:
You can also get regular updates and assessments on your health. Aside from medications, regular visits to your physician can help you understand your blood pressure levels, cholesterol, weight management, and any early signs of declining physical health.
6. Suicide Prevention:
Suicide is the most concerning of factors when studying the relationship between longevity and bipolar disorder. Suicide risk can increase by factors such as substance misuse, relationship troubles, family history of suicide, medications, and more.
You can work to make sure your medications are prescribed and are working for you. You can also speak to a professional about the dose and type of medications to lower the risk of suicide.
The link between bipolar disorder and life expectancy is like a puzzle, with different factors playing a contributing role. While research suggests a possible reduction in life expectancy for people with bipolar disorder, some steps can be taken to improve one’s life and well-being to offset some risks.
I hope to understand the relationship between bipolar and longevity, so you can find yourself with the strength and knowledge to make informed choices that lead to healthy, fulfilling, and long lives!
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