|By DAVID DISALVO|
|Monday, 17 September 2012 03:23|
IF you compare mental health records from Japan with those from nearly all other developed countries, you’ll come across a glaring distinction – Japan has one of the lowest rates of bipolar disorder in the civilized world; and the lowest among high-income countries.
The lifetime incidence of bipolar in Japan is .07%, a fraction of that in the United States (the US has the highest lifetime rate of bipolar in the world: 4.4%). In fact, high-income countries have the highest rates of bipolar disorder overall – with the notable exception of Japan.
The question is, why? When examining the lifestyle differences between Japan and other high-income countries, Japan doesn’t earn high marks on stress and work-life balance. Japanese typically work long hours and the country’s corporate culture puts severe pressure on employees to perform at a high level; in these ways, Japan is very similar to the US and other developed nations, and might even be a little worse in a few categories.
The big caveat to all of these findings and others is that, while decent correlations have materialized in a few credible studies, we still do not have definitive proof that fish oil is the incredible brain elixir its manufacturers would have us believe it is. The best we can say for now is that, yes, it does appear to improve mental health symptoms in certain people; particularly in those suffering from bipolar disorder and adolescents with psychosis.