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J Affect Disord. 2002 Apr;68(2-3):203-13.

Bipolar disorder in the general population in The Netherlands (prevalence, consequences and care utilisation): results from The Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study (NEMESIS).

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  • 1Netherlands Institute of Mental Health and Addiction, P.O. Box 725, 3500 AS, Utrecht, The Netherlands.



Little is known about the prevalence of bipolar disorder in the general population, what proportion is receiving care and what factors motivate people to seek help.


Data were derived from The Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study (NEMESIS), a psychiatric epidemiological study in the general population in The Netherlands. DSM-III-R diagnoses were based on the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI).


Lifetime prevalence of bipolar disorder was 1.9%. Compared to other mental disorders, people with bipolar disorder were more often incapacitated were more likely to have attempted suicide and reported a poorer quality of life 82.8% had experienced an additional mental disorder in their lifetime; 25.5% had never sought help for their emotional problems, not even primary, informal or alternative care.


Three limitations of the study are: (1) the CIDI prevalence estimates for bipolar disorder may be inflated; (2) personality disorders were not recorded in the NEMESIS dataset; (3) in NEMESIS certain groups have not been reached.


Three-quarters of the bipolar respondents do not benefit sufficiently from the treatment methods now available. In view of the serious consequences of this condition, greater efforts are needed to reach people with bipolar disorder, to get them into treatment.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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