Question: What is the relationship between bipolar disorder and violence?
Answer: There is a relationship between bipolar disorder and violence. As there is a relationship between severe mental illness and violence in general. The majority of people with bipolar disorder are not violent. And those people who are, are typically in the midst of either a manic or depressive episode and drinking or using drugs. In fact, the majority of violent acts are committed when people are acutely ill and when they are drinking in the context of substance abuse.
When people are manic, they can be irritable or aggressive. And when people are depressed, they can become suicidal. So when people are manic, they are more likely to become aggressive and violent with others, and when they're depressed, they're more likely to become violent towards themselves. And the suicide rates in bipolar disorder are actually fairly high. On the other hand, when patients with bipolar disorder are in treatment and do not have symptoms, there is no difference in violence between those people or anybody else in society.
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