Does Bipolar Get Worse with Age

If you have bipolar disorder, you know how debilitating it can be.
Those diagnosed with bipolar disorder have many questions, including: does bipolar get worse with age?
In the following post, we will discuss the topic and examine the progression of bipolar disorder as people grow older.
If you or someone you know is living with bipolar disorder, this post is for you.
Additionally, can visit Mind Restorative for better care and management of bipolar disorder.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes extreme shifts in a person’s mood, energy, and ability to function.
People with bipolar disorder experience high and low moods – known as mania and depression.
During a manic episode, a person might feel euphoric, energetic, and hyperactive.
A depressive episode involves feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and lack of energy that interferes with daily functioning.
The specific causes of bipolar disorder are unknown, but it likely involves an interaction of genetic and environmental factors.
For further information on the treatment and management of bipolar disorder, please contact us.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Some of the key symptoms of bipolar disorder are given as:

Manic phase symptoms:

  • Euphoric or irritable mood.
  • Increased energy, activity, and restlessness.
  • Racing thoughts and jumping between ideas.
  • Distractibility and poor concentration.
  • Inflated self-esteem and grandiose thoughts.
  • Decreased need for sleep.
  • Excessive talking and urgency to keep talking.
  • Poor judgment leads to risky behaviors.

Depressive phase symptoms:

  • Persistent sad or empty mood.
  • Feelings of hopelessness and low self-worth.
  • Loss of interest in activities.
  • Sleep and appetite disturbances.

Does Bipolar Get Worse with Age? – Facts

Does Bipolar get worse with age?
Bipolar disorder is a lifelong illness, and without proper treatment, its symptoms can indeed worsen over time.
A phenomenon called “kindling” or “progression” suggests that recurrent episodes can lower the likelihood of future episodes and increase their intensity.
However, episode frequency and severity can remain stable over the lifespan for some.
Some of the facts are as follows:

  • Bipolar is a progressive illness; about 20-30% of cases follow a pattern of worsening symptoms and more frequent episodes with time.
  • Factors like inconsistent treatment adherence or substance abuse increase the likelihood of a more deteriorating course. Having early-onset bipolar or psychotic features also heightens the risk.
  • As people age, medical comorbidities that exacerbate mood episodes, like cardiovascular issues, may emerge. Cognitive impairment is a growing concern among older bipolar patients, too.
  • Lifestyle factors play a major role in health. Maintaining treatment, practicing self-care, managing stress well, and avoiding risky behaviors support long-term stability.
  • With proper management based on each person’s needs, many can expect good long-term outcomes even into older adulthood.

When Are People Generally Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder?

The average age of onset is usually late teens to early 20s, though symptoms can sometimes start in childhood or later adulthood.
Many people struggle for years before getting an accurate diagnosis, as the symptoms can be misidentified as other conditions at first.
Bipolar disorder is diagnosed after a person experiences a full manic episode.
Episodes must show a distinct period of abnormal mood and changes in functioning.
For some, the first episode is a manic one brought on by stress or medications.
For others, the initial episode is depression before later experiencing mania.
Getting correctly diagnosed often involves consulting with a mental health professional like a psychiatrist, who can properly evaluate symptoms and history over time.
A diagnosis helps provide clarity and guide appropriate treatment and management of this chronic condition.
Early diagnosis can lead to better long-term outcomes.


Bipolar disorder might worsen with age, and there are a lot of reasons.
With the proper treatment, support, and management skills, you can manage the signs of bipolar disorder as you age.
To make your future fulfilling and healthy, consider visiting Mind Restorative.
Get help and support to manage your bipolar disorder today.


What is the life expectancy of a bipolar person?

People with bipolar disorder may have a shorter life expectancy.
Research has suggested that, on average, the lifespan of people with bipolar disorder can be reduced by between 9 to 20 years

What is end-stage bipolar disorder?

End-stage bipolar disorder refers to a severely debilitating form of illness characterized by frequent, extensive mood episodes that do not respond well to multiple treatment attempts over many years.

Why does bipolar get worse with age?

Bipolar disorder may worsen as people age due to several factors.
Medical illnesses that arise later in life can exacerbate mood episodes.
Cognitive decline also increases the risk of relapse.
Lacking consistent treatment over decades may result in a more treatment-resistant form of the condition.

What is the leading cause of death in bipolar people?

The leading cause of death for those with bipolar disorder is suicide.
Up to 20% will die by suicide, highlighting the need for close monitoring of symptoms and risk throughout the lifespan.

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