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Observations on the Treatment of Bipolar Disorder: The Financial and Emotional Impact of Bipolar Disease


The Financial and Emotional Impact of Bipolar Disease

The debilitating nature of bipolar disorder is a substantial burden not only for the patient, but also for the primary caregivers as well as for the entire healthcare system. Wyatt and Henter[9] estimated that $7 billion is spent annually in the United States for both inpatient and outpatient costs associated with the disorder. Indirect costs (ie, lost productivity and caregiver expenses) were reported to be approximately $38 million per year. It has also been reported that the annual total direct and indirect medical costs in a managed-care setting were 3 times as high for people with bipolar disorder.[10]

The burden placed on primary caregivers responsible for providing direct support to the bipolar patient was examined in a study within the Systematic Treatment Enhancement Program for Bipolar Disorder (STEP-BD) trial. Caregivers reported the greatest degree of distress in response to problem behavior: 89% reported some form of distress, with 52% reporting distress in regard to role dysfunction, and 61% reported distress due to adverse effects. The study also found that those reporting higher levels of burden tended to be younger, live in the same household as the patient, and were frequently the spouse of the patient.[11]

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