Is It Possible To Get Bi-Polar Disorder Later In Life?

Bipolar disorder often appears in your teens or early 20s. However, there is currently increasing attention to those diagnosed later in life. Older adults who learn they have bipolar disorder may have been misdiagnosed throughout their lives or could be showing initial symptoms. This article examines the possibility of getting depression later in life.

Defining Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder affects your mental state and is caused by episodes of mania and depression. These episodes can have negative impacts on all aspects of your life. Individuals with bipolar disorder can be in a state of extreme joy or extreme despair.

Researchers are unsure what causes bipolar disorder or why it affects only certain people. Brain functioning, genetics, and environment possibly contribute to the disorder.

Importance Of Early Diagnosis

Bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition, but its symptoms can be treated. Some common treatment methods include

  • Psychotherapy
  • Medication
  • Family support
  • Education

Receiving an early diagnosis of bipolar disorder can make management and treatment easier. Nevertheless, many people get misdiagnosed and don’t realize they have bipolar disorder until later in life. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), bipolar disorder can worsen if not treated. Additionally, individuals can experience more severe and frequent manic and depressive episodes over time.

Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder In Older Adults

It was previously believed that bipolar disorder “burns out” throughout an individual’s life. This belief was possibly caused by the prevalence of bipolar disorder diagnoses in teens and young adults.

However, multiple studies have debunked the myth that bipolar disorder only affects young people. In recent years, research has been increased on late-onset bipolar disorder (LOBD). A 2015 report shows nearly 25 percent of individuals with bipolar disorder are at least 60 years old.

Treating Bipolar Disorder In Older Adults

LOBD treatment options have expanded with the growing body of research. However, a 2010 study warns that more studies are needed before clear treatment strategies exist. Typical medications for treating bipolar disorder include:

  • Mood stabilizers
  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotics
  • Antianxiety medications
  • Antidepressant-antipsychotics

A doctor will often prescribe a combination of these medications alongside psychotherapy and other supportive methods.


If you are worried that you or a loved one has bipolar disorder, it is crucial to talk to your doctor. Individuals of all ages can have bipolar disorder. You mustn’t brush off severe mood changes as a sign of aging.