Italy: bipolar disorder prevalence 2010-2017

In 2017, bipolar disorder affected about 956 Italians out of 100,000, a slight decrease compared to 2010. The disease was mainly prevalent among individuals aged 15 to 24 years old and was more common among women than men. In 2016, bipolar disorder was the sixth most common cause of hospitalization for patients admitted to mental health facilities, and the fifth most common cause if only female patients are considered.

Definition, risk factors and therapies

The National Institute of Mental Health defines bipolar disorder as a manic-depressive illness that causes shifts in mood, energy and activity levels, altering the ability to carry out daily tasks. The causes of this mental condition are momentarily not well defined, even though a combination of brain structure, genetics and family history may affect the onset of the disease. Bipolar disorder is usually treated using mood stabilizers such as lithium, and in Italy, the public expenditure on lithium medication amounted to roughly 3.7 million euros in 2016 and Sardinia was the region with the greatest rate of adults taking lithium.  

The stigma around mental illness

Bipolar disorder is difficult to diagnose due to comorbidity with other mental conditions and volatility of the symptoms. Moreover, the feeling of shame that unfortunately still surrounds people dealing with mental health disorders does not make it easy to ask for a specialist’s consultation. In 2017, in some Italian regions, less than 60 percent of individuals suffering from depression declared that they sought help.

Prevalence rate of bipolar disorder in Italy from 2010 to 2017

Prevalence rate per 100,000 population
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Release date

November 2018



Survey time period

2010 to 2017

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Statistics on "Mental health in Italy"

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