Violence and Bipolar Disease

Substance abuse can lead to violence with mental health patients

April 12, 2011 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

Rate This Article

3.5

(dailyRx News) Previous research argued that patients with bipolar disorder, or manic-depressive disorder, are more likely to be violent.

Is this increased violence due to the bipolar disorder alone, or caused by other aspects of the individual's behavior?

New research indicates those patients with bipolar disease who abuse substances have a tendency to be more violent.

"If you have bipolar disorder, do not abuse drugs or alcohol."

Sweden's Karolinska Institute study explored if violence in a bipolar person comes from their disease or is it due to something else in their genetic makeup.

The results were similar when a recent study asked the same question about schizophrenics: were they more violent because of their disease or was it something else about them that made the ones who were violent that way.

The Swedish study found, as long as the individuals with bipolar disease do not abuse substances, they do not have a greater tendency for violence than the general population.

In Depth

The institute’s study comprised 3,700 diagnosed with bipolar disease in hospitals from 1973 to 2004 and a control group of 37,000 from the general population.

In the group of 3,700 people with bipolar disease, there were also patients with a concurrent diagnosis of substance and alcohol abuse. Of those with the double diagnosis, 21 percent had been convicted of violent crimes.

Of those left in the group with bipolar disease and no substance or alcohol abuse, only 5% had been convicted of violent crimes. In the 37,000 group from the general population, only 3% had been convicted of violent crimes.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 9, 2011
Last Updated:
April 13, 2011