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July 1, 2005

Survey Reveals Bipolar Disorder's Impact

A survey distributed to those with bipolar disorder has revealed new clues on the influence that bipolar disorder has on people's lives. The survey was distributed by the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) and AstraZeneca, the pharmaceutical company.

The World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) today announced results of a global bipolar disorder consumer survey, Thinking Ahead, at the World Congress of Biological Psychiatry. The survey revealed that almost half (47%) of all people with bipolar disorder - or 'consumers' as many mental health patients prefer to be referred to as - feel that their disease has had a highly negative impact on their quality of life. Further to this, more than a third (35%) of respondents stated they have been discriminated against as a result of their condition, usually within the context of everyday social relationships.

"Many people who successfully treat and manage their bipolar disorder are highly functioning individuals who sustain jobs, relationships, and lead full lives", commented Preston Garrison, Chief Executive Officer of the WFMH. "Unfortunately, however, there is a critical need to improve awareness and remove the social stigma associated with this growing condition so that others, who do not feel comfortable seeking medical support, can obtain appropriate treatment and, as a result, dramatically improve their quality of life."

The WFMH partnered with AstraZeneca to implement this survey of 687 bipolar disorder consumers across seven countries (Canada, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, United States). The findings from the Thinking Ahead survey add a compelling consumer voice to the WFMH mission and AstraZeneca's commitment to reducing damaging stigma associated with mental disorders and improving outcomes for people living with mental disorders and their families.

The survey also revealed:

- 26% of respondents NEVER tell people they have bipolar disorder. Fear of social stigma is a key reason why people do not share this information with others.

- The vast majority (79%) of respondents in all countries say successful treatment would lead to significant quality of life changes in terms of increased functionality/improved lifestyle such as, maintaining a job, having relationships, living independently, and achieving goals.

- 71% of people with bipolar disorder who were surveyed believe that the public does not understand their illness. This ignorance may be causing the stigma that many feel.

Eduard Vieta, Director of the Bipolar Disorders Program of the Hospital Clinic at the University of Barcelona, Spain, commented, "The results of this survey reflect my everyday practice in psychiatry: consumers want and need treatments that will successfully manage and treat their condition and allow everyday functioning. The development in recent years of drugs which have reduced side effects whilst remaining highly effective are a key factor in enabling people with bipolar disorder to maintain a good quality of life."

The Thinking Ahead survey interviewed people living with bipolar disorder to better understand how their disease impacts their lives and that of their families, and how treatment can help ensure their disease has as limited impact as possible on their quality of life. The Thinking Ahead theme was chosen to highlight the need for long term strategies to treat and manage bipolar disorder to ensure that consumers achieve full quality of life benefits, as opposed to short term fixes that only add to the stigma and mismanagement of mental illness.

The survey was developed by AstraZeneca and the World Federation for Mental Health, overseen by an independent panel of bipolar disorder physicians and advocacy group representatives, and conducted by Research International, an independent marketing research firm. 687 people with bipolar disorder were interviewed via the internet and face-to-face, across seven countries: U.S (203 consumers), Canada (99 consumers), U.K. (100 consumers), Germany (102 consumers), Spain (75 consumers), Italy (100 consumers) and qualitative in Greece (8 consumers). AstraZeneca was the financial sponsor of the survey.

The WFMH was founded in 1948 to advance, among all peoples and nations, the prevention of mental and emotional disorders, the proper treatment and care of those with such disorders, and the promotion of mental health. AstraZeneca is a major international healthcare business engaged in the research, development, manufacture and marketing of prescription pharmaceuticals and the supply of healthcare services.

For more information regarding the WFMH international activities, including World Mental Health Day (October 10), visit

To view the full press release please go to:


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