Do you ever experience “highs” in your life when you feel like you are invincible and can do anything?
What about “lows” when you can’t get out of bed and struggle to find pleasure in the things you once loved.
If so, you may be struggling with Bipolar Disorder.
Maybe you have already received your diagnosis.
Either way, you’re probably wondering how it will affect you long-term.
You might even be wondering, does Bipolar get worse as you age?
What is Bipolar Disorder?
To answer the question, “does Bipolar get worse as you age?” we must first understand the definition of Bipolar disorder.
After all, you can’t know if you have an illness without first understanding the symptoms.
Bipolar Disorder, previously called manic depression, is characterized by extreme mood swings.
These mood swings typically fall under three categories.
Mania: This symptom of Bipolar Disorder is the “extreme high”. Individuals experiencing this symptom, especially for the first time, may have it for more than eight months.
This is without treatment, of course.
The symptoms of mania are:
- Disconnected and very fast (racing) thoughts
- Grandiose beliefs (unrealistic sense of superiority)
- Elation or euphoria that is inappropriate
- Expressing inappropriate irritability
- Inappropriate social behavior
- Increased sexual desire or sexual delinquency
- Increased talking speed or volume
- Markedly increased energy
- Poor judgment
- Less of a need for sleep due to the high amount of energy
Hypomania: A less severe version of mania. To meet criteria for Bipolar Disorder, someone must experience at least one episode of mania or hypomania.
Symptoms of hypomania include:
- Decreased need for sleep
- Extreme “tunnel vision” regarding projects at home or at work
- Exuberant and elated mood
- Confidence increase
- Increased creativity and productivity
- Increased sexual energy and libido
- Reckless behaviors
- Pleasure-seeking behaviors that put the individual at risk
Depression: The characteristic “low” of Bipolar.
Symptoms are the same of Major Depressive Disorder and include:
- Decreased appetite and/or weight loss, or weight gain and increased appetite
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering and decision making
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, hopelessness
- Insomnia or oversleeping
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Low libido
- Consistent medical symptoms like headaches, stomach problems or pain
- Persistently sad or anxious
- Restlessness, irritability
- Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts
Are there different types of Bipolar Disorder?
While symptoms are similar, there are actually a few different types of Bipolar Disorder.
Bipolar Disorder is not a “one size fits all” type of illness.
So, to understand the question, “does Bipolar get worse as you age?” you have to understand the different types.
Let’s take a look at them.
Bipolar I Disorder
To meet the criteria for this disorder, an individual must have experienced at least one manic episode.
The manic episode may be before or after a hypomanic episode or depressive episode.
It’s also important to note that mania associated with this disorder may cause psychosis or a break from reality.
Bipolar II Disorder
To meet the criteria for this disorder, an individual must have experienced at least one major depressive episode and at least one hypomanic episode.
However, this individual has not experienced a manic episode.
It’s important to note that Bipolar II Disorder is not a less severe form of Bipolar I Disorder.
Bipolar II is a separate diagnosis, and often depressive episodes are more severe in this form of the disorder.
The individual has experienced at least two years of various periods of hypomania symptoms and periods of depressive symptoms.
The depressive symptoms in this disorder are less severe than in Major Depressive Disorder.
Bipolar and related disorders can be induced by drugs, alcohol or medical diseases/disorders.
The best way to know if you have Bipolar Disorder is to speak to a mental health professional.
They can help get you a diagnosis and understand your symptoms.
If you are concerned, please speak with a mental health professional today.
While internet searches are helpful, nothing can replace trained medical staff with experience in helping people just like you.
Reach out to your primary care physician for referrals and local resources.
What triggers Bipolar Disorder?
The first thing to know about a Bipolar Disorder diagnosis is that it’s not your fault.
While we don’t know the exact cause of Bipolar Disorder, we know that genetic factors are usually at play.
Bipolar Disorder typically runs in families.
Here are some risk factors that may increase your risk of developing this disorder, or what may at least trigger a first episode.
- Having a close relative, like a sibling or parent, with Bipolar Disorder
- Periods of high stress, such as the death of a loved one, breakups or other trauma
- Drug or alcohol abuse
Any of these risk factors may trigger the first episode of Bipolar Disorder, which tends to be severe.
Can I prevent Bipolar Disorder?
Unfortunately, because Bipolar disorder is not caused by environmental factors, there is no way to prevent it.
However, there are some things you can do to help yourself if you’ve been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder or suspect you have it.
Pay attention to the warning signs
If you begin to notice symptoms of an episode, it’s important to address it as quickly as possible.
Early intervention can prevent the episode from getting worse and decrease the length of an episode.
Be on the lookout for warning signs and enlist the help of family and friends.
Often, family and friends will notice a change before you are capable of noticing it in yourself.
Avoid drugs and alcohol
Use of drugs or alcohol can greatly worsen your symptoms.
It can also cause episodes of Bipolar Disorder.
If you know you have Bipolar Disorder, it’s best to avoid drugs and alcohol completely.
Take your medications exactly as directed
Due to the euphoria experience in manic episodes, many people are tempted to stop treatment.
Don’t do this. Stopping your medication or reducing your dose on your own can worsen your symptoms.
Not only that, but it can also cause serious withdrawal symptoms and cause you to become ill.
Is Bipolar Disorder considered a serious mental illness?
If you think you have or know you have Bipolar Disorder, you may wonder if it is a serious mental illness.
The answer is yes.
Bipolar Disorder can have major negative effects on an individual’s life and circumstances.
Individuals with this disorder experience difficulties with interpersonal relationships, financial difficulties, co-occurring disorders, suicide attempts and even death.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though, as most people can successfully manage their symptoms with professional treatment.
What happens if Bipolar goes untreated? Does Bipolar get worse as you age?
One thing to know about Bipolar Disorder is that it’s sometimes difficult to recognize.
When asking, “Does Bipolar get worse as you age?” one answer is that it’s possible for symptoms to worsen because the disorder goes unrecognized and untreated.
In fact, 70% of people receive an incorrect diagnosis before they receive the correct one.
Not to mention, the average time between the start of symptoms and diagnosis is 10 years.
This is because people often mistake mania for “high energy” or ADHD.
Additionally, the depressive lows are often associated with major depressive disorder.
Misdiagnosis presents all sorts of problems to an individual with this serious disorder.
In addition to the difficulties of mood swings, other effects of long-term untreated Bipolar Disorder may be:
Loss of ability to work
Bipolar disorder is one of the leading causes of disability around the world.
Due to the extreme nature of Bipolar Disorder’s mood swings, many individuals find it difficult to work.
They may act inappropriately in a work setting during mania, or fail to show up at all during a depressive episode.
Untreated Bipolar Disorder makes it difficult to work.
Stress on personal relationships
Irritability and risk-taking behaviors during mania can produce strain on a relationship.
Additionally, loss of self-esteem, low sex drive and an inability to communicate during depressive episodes may strain the relationship.
These extreme mood swings can result in unemployment, divorce, and legal problems.
Substance abuse issues
Studies show that among people with untreated Bipolar Disorder, 56% abuse drugs and 44% abuse alcohol.
Participation in medication management and therapy can greatly decrease this risk.
Studies show that thirty percent of people with untreated bipolar disorder commit suicide.
This unsettling statistic is drastically decreased with the assistance of therapy and medication management.
So, does Bipolar disorder get worse as you age? Well, yes – if it’s left untreated.
Does Bipolar Disorder get worse as you age if you receive treatment?
Bipolar Disorder usually presents itself in the late adolescent years of an individual.
However, it can appear anytime between childhood and even as late as a person’s 50’s.
It’s important to note that Bipolar Disorder rarely, if ever, “disappears”.
If you have an episode of mania, your likelihood of having another episode or cycle is nearly 100%.
That being said, treatment can effectively eliminate the most severe symptoms of Bipolar Disorder.
One problem, though, is that during manic episodes, it can be easy to struggle with medication compliance.
Mania can make an individual feel euphoric and like they are invincible.
While this may feel good, the effects of mania are often detrimental to the life of the individual, and those surrounding him/her.
Generally speaking, medication incompliance is one of the main reasons Bipolar Disorder can become worse over time.
Avoiding treatment will inevitably cause Bipolar symptoms to become worse.
That’s why it is absolutely vital that you receive treatment as quickly as possible.
Indeed, the prognosis is much better for those who receive treatment early.
Typically speaking, Bipolar Disorder is a progressive disorder.
This means that it usually gets worse over time.
Episodes may become more frequent and severe as you age.
Fortunately, though, through medication management and therapy, Bipolar Disorder can be effectively managed.
When appropriately managed, the likelihood of illness progression is much lower.
Treatment can lead to a happy, healthy and successful life, in spite of a Bipolar diagnosis.
It’s absolutely pivotal to remember that Bipolar Disorder is no different than managing any other chronic illness like high blood pressure or diabetes.
Vigilance is key, but through consistent awareness of the illness it can be successfully managed.
So, does bipolar disorder get worse as you age?
Maybe, but you can manage it.
Can Bipolar Disorder just go away or does bipolar get worse as you age?
Unfortunately, Bipolar Disorder does not go away on its own, or even through treatment.
However, the symptoms can come and go.
Some people may not experience symptoms for months or even years.
Eventually though, another episode will occur.
Do not be discouraged, though.
Remember that, although Bipolar Disorder can’t be successfully cured, it can be effectively managed.
Life-long management is necessary, but possible.
Do not lose hope in your diagnosis.
Learning to adapt to the symptoms of your illness is possible and achievable.
How to Deal with Bipolar Disorder
So, we’ve been talking about treatment, but what does it mean?
Studies show that the most effective treatment for Bipolar Disorder is a combination of therapy and medication management.
But where can you start?
Fortunately, there’s an option to get help, right now, through online therapy.
Online therapy places you with a therapist who is trained in helping manage symptoms of Bipolar Disorder.
You’ll get matched with someone who will work best for you and who can work around your schedule.
All of this without the need to leave your house.
Additionally, online therapy offers a free service where they provide you with worksheets, yoga, meditation and other resources to get you started.
They also give you with a symptom test to help you understand your illness and see where you’re at mentally.
Then, you are given the option to match with a therapist who can take you the rest of the way to recovery.
So, what are you waiting for? If you are struggling with symptoms of Bipolar Disorder, it’s time to get help.
You deserve to live a happy, healthy and fulfilling life. Through treatment, you can successfully manage your symptoms and achieve your goals.
Get started today on the future you deserve.