Bipolar is big business – originally written in April 2011

Why is almost everyone talking about a bipolar diagnosis as something that can never ever be eliminated?

Here is one controversial answer: Bipolar is big business.

bipolar business

'Bipolar ensures reliable profit'

It is said that 5.7 million adults have a bipolar disorder diagnosis in the USA[1]. I am going to guess that about 5 million of these people are taking an average of two tablets per day. So that is 10 million tablets. Even if those tablets only cost $1 each that is $3.65 billion per year just in the USA. As bipolar is said to affect every race and every country, the worldwide bill for medication must be enormous.

Any kind of therapy after a bipolar diagnosis is likely to be expensive. The clinic Kathryn Zeta Jones stayed in recently was said to charge $750/day [2]. Yes, that is an exception, but even ordinary beds on psychiatric wards cost the tax payer a lot of money.

In the UK it costs £1 billion/year for 9,220 NHS psychiatrists [3]. OK, they work on a lot more than just bipolar, but there is no doubt that bipolar is a fast growing sector for psychiatrists. In 1998 the average age of diagnosis in the UK was 39, now it is just 19. Younger diagnosis, with no hope of ever eliminating the diagnosis means more work for the health services and more medication needed over a lifetime.

The controversial idea here is nothing to do with anyone being evil or even particularly bad, it is just that there is money to be made and many jobs depending on the growth of the bipolar industry.

I cannot claim to be whiter than white here having been paid to deliver training that included phrases like, “Bipolar is a life-long illness” and “Medication is important”. Of course both phrases may be true, but how do we know that they apply to everyone all the time?

I am ready to be paid less, if that is what happens when fewer people are diagnosed and a few more people eliminate their bipolar diagnosis.

[1] Bipolar disorder statistics

[2] Silver Hill mental health hospital in Connecticut in a daily mail article 

[3] Mental Health Today Journal – March 2011 – Pavilion Publishing UK