We work with journalists across the UK to raise awareness of the impact that bipolar has on people’s lives. Bipolar UK is the only national charity dedicated to supporting individuals and families affected by bipolar. Our mission is to empower everyone affected by bipolar to live well and fulfil their potential.

We are keen to help the media in any way we can.


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You can contact Sarah Owen on 07759 232028 or via email at [email protected]

We offer:

  • Up-to-date statistics (see key facts and figures below)
  • Expert quotes or interviews
  • Case studies from our Media Volunteers database

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Bipolar UK Key Statistics

1. One million plus


While it is impossible to calculate an exact number, we estimate that over a million adults (1)  in the UK have bipolar. That’s roughly 30% more than the number of people who have dementia (2)


2. What is bipolar?


Bipolar is a serious mental health condition characterised by significant mood swings. Someone with bipolar can experience highs (hypermania or mania), lows (depression) and mixed states (where symptoms of depression and mania occur at the same time) in between long or short periods of stability (euthymia)(3)


3. Who has bipolar?


Bipolar affects people from all backgrounds, making little distinction across the world between social class, sexuality, ethnicity and gender (4)


4. At what age does bipolar appear?


The symptoms of bipolar can appear at any age. Research has found that almost 50 per cent of people get symptoms before the age of 21 (5) , but it is common for people to experience distressing symptoms for years before receiving a correct diagnosis

5. Suicide risk


Someone with bipolar has a suicide risk that’s at least 20 times greater than someone without bipolar (6)

6. Self-harm risk


Someone with bipolar is 50 times more likely to self-harm than someone without bipolar (7)

7. Care and treatment


60% of people living with bipolar get no treatment or support for the condition (8), which has a huge impact on their quality of life and prognosis. Also, many people with bipolar have not been prescribed the right treatment (9)


8. Disease burden


The World Health Organization’s ‘Global Burden of Disease’ report ranks bipolar as the fourth leading cause of overall disease burden in people aged 10 to 24 (10)


9. Symptoms of bipolar


The onset of hypermania or mania can include one or more of the following; great enthusiasms and overactivity, rapid thinking, pressured speech, impatience or irritability; lack of sleep, overspending, increased libido or hyper-sexuality, impulsive or risky behaviour, grandiose ideas. If left untreated, mania can sometimes develop into psychosis where a person loses touch with reality and may experience hallucinations or delusions. Someone experiencing any of these symptoms needs urgent help.
Symptoms of depression may include one or more of the following: withdrawal from social activities, persistent low mood with or without crying, a lack of interest in activities normally enjoyed, a sense of hopelessness, low self-worth, a lack of self-care and suicidal thoughts. Someone experiencing these symptoms needs to see their GP or mental health team as soon as possible (11)


10. Causes of bipolar

While more research is needed in this area, several studies have found a genetic link:


• Children who have a parent with bipolar have a 10% chance of developing the condition (12)
• Children who have two parents with bipolar have a 70% chance of developing the condition (13)

Environmental factors can also affect both the structure of our brain and our mood. These include stress (14), the use of recreational drugs (15) such as cannabis, persistent lack of sleep (16) and hormonal changes, particularly for women after childbirth (17) and who are going through the menopause (18)


11. Women and childbirth


Women with bipolar have a 50% chance of an episode of illness either during pregnancy or after giving birth. This includes a 25% chance of psychosis (known as post-partum psychosis) - a very severe episode, which usually requires hospitalisation (19) 

12. What is the treatment for bipolar?


NICE recommends that the treatment for bipolar is a combination of medication and psychological therapies (20) . Another important factor is good self-management (psycho-education, relapse prevention and recovery) (21) to develop a good routine with diet, sleep and exercise.


13.What services do Bipolar UK provide?

Bipolar UK is the only national charity dedicated to supporting individuals and families affected by bipolar. Our mission is to empower everyone affected by bipolar to live well and fulfil their potential. Our services are free. Every £1 we spend on Peer Support Groups saves health and social care services £6.70 (22)


This is what we offer:

  • eCommunity – a moderated, anonymous, 24/7 online forum
  • Peer Support Groups – monthly or fortnightly in-person and online meetings
  • Peer Support Line – phone (currently booked in advance via the website, although this may change as the team grows) and email support
  • Website – up-to-date resources, FAQs and first-person stories
  • Weekly newsletter – we keep 22,000 members informed about the latest research, news and views in the bipolar world
  • Social media – we support our community on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
  • Annual Conference – over 1000 people attended our online conference in March 2021
  • Bipolar in the Workplace – via email, we provide employment advice and support
  • To donate, go to bipolar.org.uk/donate

Full references 

(1) Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey: Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing, England 2014

(2) In 2019, there were 850,000 people with dementia in the UK. Alzheimer's Society website

(3) NHS Website: Symptoms: bipolar disorder 

(4) NHS Website: Overview: bipolar disorder

(5) Better care needed for people displaying first symptoms of bipolar disorder

(6) Literature Reviews, L. Plans 2019 / Pompili M, Gonda X, Serafini G, Innamorati M, Sher L, et al. (2013)

(7) Better care needed for people displaying first symptoms of bipolar disorder

(8) Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey: Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing, England 2014

(9) A 2020 study at the University of Glasgow found that a quarter of patients with bipolar in Scotland were being prescribed medication that could make symptoms worse and cause serious episodes of mania.

(10) Better care needed for people displaying first symptoms of bipolar disorder

(11) NHS Website: Symptoms: bipolar disorder 

(12) Craddock N, Jones I. Genetics of bipolar disorder. Journal of medical genetics. 1999 Aug 1;36(8):585-94

(13) Research presented at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) neuroscience congress, Vienna, 2016

(14) NHS Website: Causes: bipolar disorder

(15) Association between Illicit Drug and Alcohol Use and First Manic Episode

(16) NHS Website: Causes: bipolar disorder

(17) Action on Postpartum Psychosis website

(18) Symptom severity of bipolar disorder during the menopausal transition

(19)  Di Florio, A., Smith, S., & Jones, I. R. (2013). Postpartum psychosis. The Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, 15(3), 145-20

(20) NICE: Recognising and managing bipolar disorder in adults in primary care 

(21)  Self-management in bipolar disorder - the story so far 

(22) Evaluation of how much peer support saves public services per £1 spent (based on ratio calculation)