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The researchers from the psychiatric division of Stavanger University Hospital recruited 252 individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder from acute care hospital wards and 230 from outpatient clinics. They compared these patients with 100,869 people in the general population.
Patients from the acute ward had more severe illness, but both they and the outpatients had similar levels of educational achievement as the general population, wrote Helle Schoeyen, and colleagues in the July Journal of Affective Disorders. This held true for people aged less than 45. But patients with bipolar disorder aged 45 to 80 actually had higher levels of education than the general population. However, the bipolar patients were more likely to be unmarried and to receive disability benefits than the control group.
“These findings emphasize the importance of early identification and adequate follow-up treatment of [bipolar disorder] throughout the life span in order to prevent a decline in social and occupational function,” wrote the researchers.
For more about how individuals with bipolar disorder can succeed in life, see Psychiatric News: