Risk Factors for Violence in Bipolar Disorder
Writing in Psychiatric Times, Drs. Allison Lee and Igor Galynker took a look at some of the risk factors for violence in people who have bipolar disorder, with special emphasis on childhood trauma. They noted that childhood trauma itself is linked to increased potential for violence in itself – as well as increased vulnerability to mood and personality disorders.
Since bipolar disorder alone does carry some increased risk for violent behavior, a history of trauma in childhood in a person with bipolar disorder thus raises that risk considerably, especially when 2 or more types of trauma are involved, the doctors said. Trauma history in BP is also associated with “earlier onset of bipolar disorder, faster cycling, and increased rates of suicide.” They also quoted the shockingly sad figure that almost 50% of adults with bipolar disorder have a history of childhood trauma, with a high rate of emotional abuse.
Other factors the doctors identified as increasing the potential for violence include:
- The bipolar person also has borderline personality disorder.
- The person has a history of impulsive acts – especially acts of aggression (not necessarily violent).
- Substance abuse. Self-medicating with drugs and/or alcohol is an all-too-common problem in those who have BP, and is known to promote aggressive to violent behavior.
An article in Duke Health News mentions an additional factor: living in an area where violence is prevalent.Finally, there is another sobering statistic reported inPsychiatric News: more than a quarter of persons with severe mental illnesses are crime victims each year – a rate 11 times greater than the general population.
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