Bipolar patients often relapse

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Results of a study suggest that bipolar disorder has a high relapse rate. In the study, researchers found evidence that three fourths of the hospitalizations for treatment of bipolar disorder are repeat admissions.

The study findings were reported today at the American Psychiatric Association's annual meeting in San Francisco.

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, typically causes wide swings in mood -- sometimes from extreme incapacitating depression to euphoric recklessness.

"It is well known that bipolar disorder is a recurrent disease, so we considered it important to assess hospitalization patterns as an indication of the course of illness," principal investigator Dr. Urban sby from Danderyd University Hospital, Sweden, told Reuters Health prior to his presentation.

Despite an overall drop in the number of psychiatric hospitalizations in Sweden, their findings showed that the rate of admissions for treatment of bipolar disorder remained steady between 1997 and 2005, the psychiatrist noted.

Furthermore, he said, "When we followed up a cohort of all patients with their first bipolar disorder admission in the year 2000 for 5 years, 60% had no readmissions, and 15% of the patients had 66 of the readmissions."

The average readmission rate per patient during those 5 years was 1.2 following a first hospitalization; the rate was higher at 1.9 per patient following a second admission.

Roughly half the hospital admissions were for manic episodes and one quarter were for depression; the remainder was diagnosed as mixed episodes and "unspecified/other."

These findings, the investigators conclude, support that bipolar disorder has a high relapse rate