Bipolar Disorder Affects All Ages

bipolarAn all-too-common stereotype is the grumpy old man yelling at kids to get off his lawn. But irritability and crankiness aren’t necessarily natural components of aging. In the elderly, they might be a sign to consider something more severe.

Bipolar disorder, a chronic mental illness with a hallmark of significant mood swings, has an average onset of 25. But it can appear at any age. It’s also possible that the person with bipolar disorder has had symptoms for some time, but has never been diagnosed.

More than 10 million Americans live with bipolar disorder, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness and, as our population continues to age, the number of seniors with the disorder naturally will increase. These people may experience periods of deep depression followed by periods of extreme mania. Severity of symptoms will vary according to the individual, and episodes may also include hallucinations or delusions.

The good news is that treatment and holistic health activities can help. But the first step is to be aware of the problem. The University of Michigan Depression Center notes that bipolar disorder identification can be particularly challenging in seniors: Medications can cause side effects similar to bipolar disorder, and symptoms can be much like those of other age-related conditions. One more thing from the University of Michigan: Men and women are equally likely to develop bipolar disorder as adults, but recent studies show that women may be more than twice as likely as men to develop the illness late in life.

At this stage of life, the senior may be more reliant on loved ones for awareness and help. If something seems “off” for you or someone you know, please seek professional assistance so treatment and healing can begin as soon as possible.




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