Bipolar disorder, or manic depression, is a recurrent and long-term mental illness that can seriously affect the lives of sufferers and their relatives. It is characterized by the alternating occurence of manic, hypomanic, depressive and possibly mixed episodes and has been estimated to have a lifetime prevalence of 1.5-2% in the E.U. When service users are in remission they can still be suffering from subsyndromal symptoms which are not quite severe enough for a diagnosis of full-blown bipolar disorder. While subsyndromal manic symptoms can improve functioning subsyndroman depressive ones can lead to impairment and disability. A survey of 157 bipolar outpatients in the Netherlands found that they had fewer symptoms of psychopathology than psychiatric outpatients in general but a significantly lower quality of life than the rest of the population. The more bipolar symptoms they had the worse was their quality of life.
Goossens, Peter J.J. ... [et al] - Self-reported psychopathological symptoms and quality of life in outpatients with bipolar disorder Perspectives in Psychiatric Care October 2008, 44(4), 275-284