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What is Bipolar Disorder? Does it Affect Older Adults?

Early Intervention and Prevention of Mental Health Issues Amongst Youth

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness characterized by extreme mood swings. These mood swings range from extreme elation to depression. Bipolar disorder typically manifests itself in a person’s teenage years and early twenties, but there is growing interest in those diagnosed later in life.

Seniors who discover they have bipolar disorder may have been misdiagnosed throughout their lives or may only be experiencing the condition’s initial symptoms. There is an ongoing effort to learn more about bipolar disorder in later life and how to treat it.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder has an impact on your mental health. It can cause manic and depressive episodes. These occurrences can have a negative impact on every aspect of your life. A person suffering from bipolar disorder may experience extreme joy or extreme despair. These episodes can have an impact on your ability to function. As a result, it can be difficult to maintain healthy relationships, keep jobs, and live a stable life.

Researchers are unsure what causes bipolar disorder or why it only affects a subset of the population. Genetics, brain function, and environment are all likely factors in the disorder.

The significance of early detection

Bipolar disorder is a chronic illness, but the symptoms can be managed. Those suffering from bipolar disorder can live a full life if they receive effective treatment. Among the most common treatment methods are:

  • Medication 
  • Psychotherapy
  • Education 
  • Familial support

Early diagnosis of bipolar disorder can help with treatment and management. Despite this, many people are misdiagnosed and do not realize they have bipolar disorder until it is too late. This postpones treatment. It may also lead to ineffective treatments. Bipolar disorder, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), can worsen if not treated. Furthermore, a person’s manic and depressive episodes can become more severe and frequent over time.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Diagnosis of bipolar disorder in older people

Bipolar disorder was once thought to “burn out” over the course of a person’s life. The prevalence of bipolar disorder diagnoses in teens and young adults most likely contributed to this belief. According to NAMI, more than half of all cases of  bipolar disorder begin before the age of 25.

Several studies have debunked the myth that bipolar disorder only affects teenagers. There has been an increase in research on late-onset bipolar disorder in recent years (LOBD). According to a 2015 report Trusted Source, nearly 25% of people with bipolar disorder are at least 60 years old.

Most research considers bipolar disorder that begins after the age of 50 to be LOBD. When they first exhibit symptoms of mania or hypomania, 5 to 10% of people with bipolar disorder will be over the age of 50.

In older adults, it can be difficult to correctly diagnose bipolar disorder symptoms. The symptoms are frequently confused with those of other diseases. According to a Primary Psychiatry article, symptoms such as psychosis, sleep disturbance, and aggression can be confused with dementia or a depressive disorder. According to the article, late-onset manic episodes are more likely to be associated with stroke, dementia, or hyperthyroidism.

Bipolar disorder treatment in older adults

With the growing body of research, treatment options for LOBD have expanded. While there is increasing evidence that medications can treat LOBD, a 2010 study trusted Source warns that more research is needed before there are clear treatment strategies.

Typical bipolar disorder medications include:

  • Mood stabilizers
  • Antipsychotics
  • Antidepressants
  • Antidepressant-antipsychotics
  • Anti Anxiety medications

A doctor will frequently prescribe a combination of these medications in addition to psychotherapy and other forms of support.

Contacting your physician

If you suspect that you or a loved one has bipolar disorder, you should consult your doctor. Bipolar disorder can affect people of all ages. Don’t dismiss severe mood swings as a sign of aging.

A person with late-onset bipolar disorder may be experiencing a manic episode, which includes symptoms such as:

  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Being easily distracted
  • Losing the need for sleep
  • Irritability
  • Excessive spending

Symptoms of a depressive episode include:

  • A loss of interest in activities one once enjoyed
  • Feeling overly tired
  • Having difficulty concentrating or remembering
  • Changing habits
  • Thinking of or attempting suicide
Treatment of Bipolar Disorder in Elderly
Treatment of Bipolar Disorder in Elderly

Summing up

Bipolar disorder in older adults requires medical consultation. It is important to take extra care of elderly citizens if they are suffering from bipolar disorder. Samvedna Care provides specialized care for elderly citizens who suffer from issues like bipolar disorder. You can choose to give the best care available to your elderly family members at Samvedna Cares, you can also opt for arranging caregivers who can take care of the elderly in the comfort of their own homes. It is important to provide the best care available to the elderly in the twilight of their lives so that they can handle the condition properly.

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