Bipolar Disorder Community
4.99k Members
Avatar universal

Does BiPolar get worse with age?

I have seemed to get worse through the years, even though, I was just diagnosed (20 years as depression before now at BP1), it does seem that the episodes got worse and worse through the years.

As my father got older, he seemed to get worse, and worse (he wasn't diagnosed or medicated), and I just wonder what it's going to be like as I get older.  What does my family and friends have to "look forward to"?

I know we can get "stable", but does it continue to get worse?  Also, I have a history of dimentia in my family - I wonder if it's linked?

111 Responses
601528 tn?1224085098
Personally...mine progressed with age. I was more out of control as far as being rageful towards my family. But then learned to be more in control as an adult around friends and co-workers. Though I still wanted to rage. The flooding of anger..the hallucinations...the depressions, confusion...all of it until I finally really fell apart at the age of 38. I was a realtor and found myself unable to do much of anything, much less think clearly. So I gave that up. That's when I was finally diagnosed properly and medicated. I am not completely stable...but much more so then I was 5 years ago without meds. But anyway, yes I do believe it progresses with age.
Avatar universal
Scary, huh?  I wasn't diagnosed until this year (40), but the last year was the worst - manic episode.  It was psychotic without doubt.  I was on an antidepressant and amphetamine that apparently set me off on mania for a whole year. ....needless to say, the aftermath of the tornado was pretty bad.  

What scares me is getting older and older, being a single Mom, no real family support, etc., what will become of me and is it going to lead to dementia or something like my Grandmother?   If I can get stable (which I am more now than EVER!), I will be able to make it, but I don't want to end up in an institution.

I bottomed out at the end of 38, so I can relate.   I have a low stress job now, and I don't know how I managed to stay in banking / real estate for 20 years with BP.  
601528 tn?1224085098
I was a single mom too for years...It was sooooo tough being BP and everything on top of it. I have the same fears as you, My grandfather suffered from demetia. But don't worry...we will make it....somehow. I am actually kissing up to my son, so he will take care of me in my old age...LOL Hopefully he will fall for it.

Thats cool you were in real estate/banking for 20 years. We seems to have alot in common.
Avatar universal
I knew I was always ADD but have just been diagnosed as having manic depressive disorder. It seems to have gotten worse with my age, this year being my worse (49). Does anyone know of any treatment that works. Right now I'm participating in a reserach program using Abilify and Prozac. None of these stop my racing thoughts though.

Anyone with some information?
Avatar universal
OH LORD!  NO- Prozac is horrible for BP (manic progressive).  Just like you , I had been diagnosed with ADD, but it wasn't that at all.  I had been treated for depression, also.  The anti-depressant and adderall kicked me into psychotic mania.  

That's an experiment I wouldn't want to be involved in!  Talk to your pdoc....  

Bless your heart!
462570 tn?1273636577
It seemed to progress with age with me as well.  Diagnosed firmly at age 38.  I just went downhill like **** on a hot tin roof!  One day I seemed to have it together and then the next BOOM - fallin' apart.  That isn't really the case - I fell apart slowly and progressively- but still - all the books I've read talk about the disorder getting worse as we age or if it has been left untreated due to something called "kindling".  Look it up - research it.  There are only a couple of known mood stabilizers that have proven to reduce kindling and one (Lithium) that actually seems to reverse it.  Studies are being done every day with the newer classes such as Lamactil and Topamax to see if they can help with the kindling but no really hard proof has come about yet.  
There are links to early dementia with Bi Polar that has been untreated but the good news is that with proper medication - we don't have to go through it.
Avatar universal
Thanks a bunch.  I haven't heard the kindling word before.  I went to the NAMI website and was looking, but didn't find a lot about relationships of the two.  It's just weird to me that there is a history of this AND dementia.

I currently take Lamactil and it works well - I feel better than I have in my while life.  I miss my mania (energy ONLY) parts at time, but overall, I feel better than I could have imagined.  

607502 tn?1288251140
You can read about kindling here : http://***.***

The reality is that it has not been proven conclusively yet but it does look interesting.  Bipolar is a progressive illness - the symptoms and episodes grow with age and this is one of the major reasons why early diagnosis and treatment is important - Untreated bipolar's have a hugely increased risk of early onset dementia for one.

Treatment and management are vital.  I do worry seriously about someone doing a trial with abilify and prozac - neither of these drugs is new and their affect are know - SSRI drugs are the new big thing in Bipolar treatment and thats alarming considering they can send a significant portion of patients into dysphoric mania (also know as mixed episodes) which is the most dangerous state for bipolars - most suicide attempts for bipolar's come during mixed episodes.

If you are taking any anti depressant and are a bipolar you should be carfully monitored and those around you aware of the symptoms of a mixed epsiode - MOAI and Tricyclic AD's can also cause mixed states which is why there is a lot of debate among doctor about using AD drugs in the maintenance phase.
Avatar universal
So true on the dysphoric mania - that is a SCARY situation.  I was in the mixed episode when I attempted suicide and wasn't even aware at the time that I was eating pills like tic tacs.  

It's a little scary to me since I was diagnosed at 40 - just got treatment - and my Dad got worse when he was at 45.   With dementia running in my family - as well as, the BP, it makes me think I am in for a rough row to hoe.    

The message blanked out the web address - can you send me a direct message with the web address?  

As always - you are the best -

561706 tn?1333950874
I have found my illness has stabilized a lot more the past few years (I'm 41).  I'm pretty happy with my current med regime.
My dad suffered with manic depression his whole life with only Li as treatment for a long time.  As he got older his episodes became less severe and then less frequent. He took Paxil for many years alone - luckily with only good effects.

Later a VA doc put him on Seroquel and Depakote.

He suffered episodes of depression sometimes, but never had another manic episode after about 60 years of age (he lived to be 78).
Avatar universal
i have to agree with everyone else, believe my really syarted coming out at 38-39, certainly progressed with age until i was finally diagnosed at 41, should have been dx earlier but i was in denial an refused all attempt of family an freinds for help. Sure made fore a rough 3 years , still trying to get meds an all straight its a tuff ride an i do see it getting worse with age
607502 tn?1288251140
I will dig up the address and email it to anyone who needs it - I have no idea why this has started happening now, blanking of website addesses.

Dysphoric mania is the single most dangerous phase for anyone to be in because you just do not realise you are there and if you do not have people around you who know its an incredibly dangerous place to be.  Ironically I am reading an article from the Australian Prescriber which is a mag for pharmacists (my pharmacist prints out interesting articles for me from it) about acute treatment of bipolars that has some interesting stats : quoting

" Patients with bipolar disorders face significant risks of morbidity and mortality and present medical practitioners with considerable diagnostic and management challenges. The lifetime prevalence of bipolar disorders is estimated at 1-4% of the general population.1   Suicide is attempted by 25-50% of sufferers2, and overall 15% of people with bipolar disorders die by suicide.3

Accurate diagnosis depends on recognising often under-reported symptoms of elevated mood. Mixed states (combined depressive and elevated symptoms) and comorbid substance misuse frequently cloud the initial diagnosis. These diagnostic complexities along with often impaired patient insight lead to a third of Australian patients suffering illness for more than ten years before accurate diagnosis is made and appropriate treatment given."

The suicide attempt figure is alarming and when you add to it that men are many times more likely to successfully commit suicide the risk factors grow more.

Interestingly the article also has this to say :

"Bipolar I involves manic symptoms which last for at least a week and are severe enough to markedly impair functioning or require hospitalisation. In contrast, bipolar II involves hypomania in which elevated symptoms are less severe but still clearly different from usual mood and last for at least four days. In both forms of the illness, depressive episodes tend to be more frequent and disabling than mania. Sufferers spend 32-50% of follow-up in depressive episodes and only 1-9% in elevated states.5   Most patients have inter-episode periods of recovery, but over 90% relapse without medications.6 "

Which goes to another thread on here where someone doubted they were BP because they were not needing meds.  Its a fools game in the end.

Article is here (add http in front) www.australianprescriber.com/magazine/31/3/73/6/
Have an Answer?
Top Mood Disorders Answerers
Avatar universal
Arlington, VA
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
15 signs that it’s more than just the blues
Discover the common symptoms of and treatment options for depression.
We've got five strategies to foster happiness in your everyday life.
Don’t let the winter chill send your smile into deep hibernation. Try these 10 mood-boosting tips to get your happy back
A list of national and international resources and hotlines to help connect you to needed health and medical services.
Here’s how your baby’s growing in your body each week.