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Does bipolar get worse as we age?
bipolargal posted:
I am 46 now, and have only been aware, and receiving treatment for my bipolar condition for about 5 or 6 years. I am curious if bipolar gets progressively better or worse as we age. It's hard for me to gauge since medication modifies one's normal behavior. In my own experience, my depression seems to get more debilitating the older I become. Also, my sleep pattern has gone from bad to worse. Is it me or does bipolar normally become progressively worse as a person ages?
robbie2shoes responded:
I'm not sure about that one, I am going to be 44. For me they say I am prementalpausal (spelling) I am starting to go through my change so they call it. I've personally notice the older I'v gotten the worse it was becoming for me and I was diagnosed 2 months ago but with many years af antidepressants that did not really work for me. Then I had some med reviews and I honestly think the meds are working for me. Atleast that's what I am hoping.

Schedule an appointment and if your on meds have a med review. Mood charting has helped me quite a bit also. also I'm on a mood stabilizer: Albilify first she had me on 2 mg then after reviewing my mood chart she increased it to 5 mg. Knocking on wood and saying my prayers I have been feeling pretty good, I haven't felt this good in a very, very long time.

Good Luck ~HUGS~ Robbie
slik_kitty responded:
bipolar can get worse with age. it also changes in women approaching menopause as our hormones change. talk to your pdoc about this. maybe see your gp for a hormone screening.
bentandbroken responded:
46 what a great age,Im 46 too. Left untreated bipolar does get worse,its called the kindling effect. I think that with meds you can slow the progression, though.. peace......... royce
hope7951 responded:
There is still discussion amongst pdocs about this. Some say it only is progressive if it goes untreated. My personal experience having been treated since 1980 and being asked to go off meds last spring because of another physical problem, is that it is progressive as i had an onset of symptoms within a week or two. I also had an onset of symptoms when I was menopausal and had to have my dosages upped as my metabolism had changed. Joye
Tanikit responded:
Apparently there can be a kindling effect, but that it doesn't always happen. They also say though that suicide is more likely in the early years of the disease (maybe cause it is more likely in adolescents or people in their 20s? - I don't know)

For me I have been untreated/wrongly treated for 14 years, taking mostly anti depressants or nothing. It does not appear that anything has got worse - I get about one major depressive period every single year which does not respond without anti depressants and many times only partially responds - this occurred even when I was on anti depressants every day for years (they had to change the meds each time) I tend to have hypomanic episodes which do not appear to get worse unless on the wrong anti depressant and recently without a mood stabiliser it was a nightmare. Since I wasn't diagnosed as bipolar I thought these were normal "happy times" and never really kept track of them.

So I am not sure whether it gets worse or not. I think like everything it can differ from person to person.
appyannie responded:
It might depend on how you spend your time during those years. Focus on recovering from the traumas of your life and learning to moderate your emotions so that you don't ascend to the highs of mania or sink into the depths of depression. Recovery is possible--the dsm even recognizes that so don't let anyone talk you out of it.

jevans14311 responded:
I am 33 years old and was finally "officially" diagnosed with BP2 last year. This is a disease I know I have had most of my life but had no means to see a psychiatrist to get officially diagnosed and put on meds.
I am not sure if it is the fact I am getting older or because once again I lost my means to see a psychiatrist and continue medication, but I am getting much worse. I was tapered off my meds with the intention of changing them and then I lost my job and insurance.
I would really like to know an expert answer to your question.
Joseph F Goldberg, MD replied to jevans14311's response:
Dear jevans14311,

There is no universal answer to predicting the course of bipolar disorder. Individuals vary greatly. Someone who has had many episodes that have been poorly controlled probably will continue to have many episodes. Someone with concurrent problems like drug or alcohol abuse or anxiety or personality disorders will likely have more long-term problems than someone without those additional problems. Someone who finds a helpful medicine regimen and stays with it will likely fare better than someone who takes medicines erratically. Someone who has had onset after age 25 typically will fare better in the long term than someone with earlier onset. Many factors bear on gauging the long-term course of a given individual and it's hard to make generalizations. Bipolar disorder does not "automatically" worsen over time if well-managed.

Dr. G.
Daved replied to Joseph F Goldberg, MD's response:
Lifestyle has a lot to do with it as does medication. There's more and more research available about the elasticity of the brain. I like to think I'm getting better and better.

I take lithium and olanzapene daily, and sleeping pills when I need it. Sleep is very important. I was in pretty bad shape 10 years ago and had major, major bouts in the early 80s and throughout the 90's.. I was first diagnosed in the late 70s. I quit drinking and smoking in mid 2000's and haven't had a major episode since 2002. Now I'm married and wrote a book about an accidental journey via bilpolar disorder through to the other side.

I found Carl Jung's concept of synchonicity is more apparent during episodes. (While I do everything to avoid an episode, I look for value in the experience as well.)

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