Stressful Events Trigger Criminal Behavior in Bipolar Patients

Bipolar disorder, a serious psychiatric condition, is also referred to as manic depressive disorder. It is characterized by dramatic shifts in mood, energy and activity levels that affect a person in carrying out the daily chores. These shifts in mood and energy levels are different severer than the normal ups and downs experienced by people. With an exposure to a violent trigger, these traits may exacerbate and cause more trouble.

A recent study, published in the JAMA Psychiatry in July 2016, revealed that exposure to violent situations is associated with higher risk of violent crime in the following week among bipolar and schizophrenia patients. It is also common with people who are not diagnosed with psychiatric conditions, but the risks are not as high as with bipolar and schizophrenia patients, the study said. Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels and behaves.

Previous data predicted that patients with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia have criminal convictions which are a notch above than the general population. The latest study which analyzed a huge data of patients from Sweden aimed at identifying the causes leading to violence in such patients after exposure to violent situations. This could be an important link in risk assessment of such a spectrum of people.

The researchers gleaned through a mammoth data of 2.8 million, of which 34,903 were schizophrenic, 29,692 were patients and more than 2.7 million were control individuals who were not diagnosed with any psychiatric disorder. They used a nationwide Swedish data for individuals born between 1958 and 1988.

Primarily, the researchers looked at six triggers — exposure to violence, self-harm, parental bereavement, traumatic brain injury, inadvertent injuries and substance abuse.

Propensity to violent behavior higher in schizophrenics

The data revealed that the risks of violent crime were absolutely high the following week after exposure to a trigger in schizophrenia patients, followed by bipolar disorder patients. Those who came next were the control respondents without any psychiatric diagnose. The study findings showed that the week following the exposure to violence was more dangerous with higher risks of violent behavior by patients.

The researchers noted that the relative risks of violent behavior across the three groups were similar, albeit with a varying degree.

“These findings support the hypothesis that recent exposure to a stressful life event, an intentional or unintentional injury, or having been diagnosed with substance intoxication increases the short-term risk of interpersonal violence in individuals with psychotic disorders and in controls,” the researchers said.

The study would assist in future research and help in understanding the underlying causes why exposure to violent triggers nudges bipolar and schizophrenia patients to partake in criminal activities. Moreover, bipolar and schizophrenia patients should receive an additional psychiatric assessment for the risk associated with violence.

Recovery roadmap

Bipolar disorder is a lifelong mental health condition which complicates the life of patients suffering from it. Though it is difficult to manage symptoms of bipolar disorder, an early intervention can help and make it a hassle-free treatment. Procrastinating can only lead to further complications. According to reports, 50 percent people detected with schizophrenia receive no treatment.

If a loved one is suffering from bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, contact the Sovereign Mental Health Services, a leading mental health treatment center in the U.S. with state-of-the-art centers spanning across the country. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number 866–954–0529 for an immediate response. Whether it is bipolar residential treatment centers in Los Angeles or any of the bipolar residential treatment centers in California, we have a facility right there for you.

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