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Does BP get worse as you age ?


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There are so many conflicting reports regarding whether or not BP gets worse as we age. I like to be prepared, which is why i usually need to look under every rock and hard place, no matter how scary it gets.

 

Does anyone know about BP and growing older ?

 

Anyone in the group who is experiencing BP as they're growing old ?

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I think that all of us that are BP are experiencing it as we grow old. Not knowing how old you are, it's hard to know if I'm considerably older than you or not. Given the age of most people on this site, I'd bet that I'm older than you. So, all I can speak to is my own experience. 

 

My BP has gotten harder to treat as I've gotten older. I find that my meds have to be tweaked a lot. A whole lot. It's more of a juggling act than it was when I was younger. A few years ago, I had ECT. In my younger days, ECT was never considered. That being said, I've also found that there are so many more meds available than there were when I was first diagnosed. Having more med choices is good. I've got a cocktail that seems to be working right now. It needs constant tweaks but it seems to keep me stable. For now, it's working. One day it may stop and if it does, I'm sure there will be other meds by that time that I haven't tried. 

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Like sylvan said, my BP has become more difficult to treat as I've aged.  its a moving target that requires nearly constant med tweaks and often total med changes.  My brain also seems much more sensitive to stress than when I was younger.  Little things throw me off kilter and episodes are brought on by increasingly smaller stresses.

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The kindling theory says it gets worse with each episode that you have, so yes, that would make it worsen with age. However if you get treatment and have less or no episodes as a result, it shouldn't worsen. Or so my pdoc says.

 

Mine changed from BP2 to BP1 with age. But I went undiagnosed with BP for some 25 years and had plenty of episodes in that time; only the depressions were treated and the ADs made me cycle. So yes, mine worsened.

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The kindling theory says it gets worse with each episode that you have, so yes, that would make it worsen with age. However if you get treatment and have less or no episodes as a result, it shouldn't worsen. Or so my pdoc says.

 

Mine changed from BP2 to BP1 with age. But I went undiagnosed with BP for some 25 years and had plenty of episodes in that time; only the depressions were treated and the ADs made me cycle. So yes, mine worsened.

 

Essentially, the same story. Take treatment seriously.

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Well... It's just as I thought.

BP gets worse with age, which helps to explain why my depressions are back.

 

I'm still in the ' low mood ' range, but who knows what is coming in the future.

 

I've started back into therapy. Hope this means I can keep the lamictal levels where they are and not higher, because higher brings on some brain fog.

 

Thank-you to everyone who has responded.

Your honesty is very comforting.


 

The kindling theory says it gets worse with each episode that you have, so yes, that would make it worsen with age. However if you get treatment and have less or no episodes as a result, it shouldn't worsen. Or so my pdoc says.

 

Mine changed from BP2 to BP1 with age. But I went undiagnosed with BP for some 25 years and had plenty of episodes in that time; only the depressions were treated and the ADs made me cycle. So yes, mine worsened.

 

Essentially, the same story. Take treatment seriously.

 

Yes. I definitely will take treatment seriously. The biggest hurdle is accepting the reality. I've entered therapy again, after years of going without.

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I'm in my late twenties but have had bp symptoms since I was like 13. It has definitely gotten worse as I have grown older. I've also had more problems with psychosis, so my DX even changed to SZA bp.

 

I am now on a cocktail that I've been on for like maybe 1.5 years now. With slight adjustments in doses, but the same meds more or less. So I'm doing a little better now that I have this cocktail.

I guess we will see what the future has in store for us. New meds come out all the time. I hate to sound so negative, but if the past is any indication of what the future will be like, then I foresee problems for me.

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Well, I haven't been psychotic or IP in ten years, so I'll say I've improved since then, although I still have ups and downs and med tweaks. I am meticulous about taking all of my meds every single day and going to therapy every week. I had a depression serious enough to do a partial hospitalization program a few years ago, so the meds don't prevent bad mood swings entirely, but they've definitely kept me from psychosis and suicidality. 

 

I will note that my life has gotten way, way more stressful as I've gotten older. Life gets harder as you age IMO. Without meds and therapy, I'm certain I'd be doing far, far worse than I am now and quite possibly be dead.  

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I just wanted to add, for the sake of general knowledge, while kindling theory is widely held to be valid among professionals, some studies contradict it. The paper I read said that bipolar definitely worsens with age, but they were questioning the kindling model, which was originally based on epilepsy.

 

It wasn't a hell of a lot of info, I think it was a one of those papers that presents a new theory, and not so much evidence. But the reason I was interested was because I knew two of the people who authored the paper, and I knew even they used to support kindling theory.

 

ugh, I can't find it. It was done at U of Pitt, and the people I knew were Ellen and Alan, and I don't remember their last names because that is what I always called them. Ellen isn't an MD, but Alan is. Aren't I helpful?

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I'm not so sure that it's getting worse as much as I'm learning more about it. I didn't realize how delusional I was until I started taking the most recent med. The delusions weren't fun, but now I'm going through this "what? Now I'm a delusional person, too?!?!" kind of greiving thing. I'm just bummed about it, but that doesn't mean my bp is getting worse.

I didn't get diagnosed until recently, after a long journey of several diagnosis. I'm just now able to attribute somethings to my mi that I didn't even realize were related before. It's a double-edged sword. I feel like crap because so much of my personality seems to be eaten up by the bipolar, but I don't think I'm any more bipolar than I was 20 years ago. I've felt all this before. I just didn't have a name for it.

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I've been ill since I was 15 and I'm 40 now, and mine has definitely got worse, especially the manias which usually come with a helping of psychosis, despite being far more self-aware and working hard to stay well. But it can also be unpredictable - I know someone slightly older who went over 12 years without any kind of episode at all until she had another one last year. 

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You see, this is why online BP support groups work so well  -

 

The responses everyone has posted are honest, no sugar coating, right from the horse's mouth, on the front lines where the will to live is stronger than any damn mood disorder.

 

We will Never Give Up, no matter how bad it gets. Medical science is going to help us by inventing even better meds than we have now, which is saying allot b/c the meds we have now are great when you're on the right ones.

 

It disturbes me what my pdoc said when I asked her this same question : '' No, bipolar doesn't get worse with age. There is no exact proof. "

Was she just playing it safe by holding back ? Was she trying to keep me from having anxiety by holding back ?

She's been a pdoc for decades. Surely she's seen thousands of people /w  BP getting worse with age ?

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Mine has definitely gotten worse. I'm only 24 though so I'm sure how much is age or due to the extreme stress I've been under because of family issues lately. I've just recently come out of my worst manic episode ever complete with a new addition of psychosis and now I'm swinging down into depression. I'm feeling kind of defeated though. I was doing really well for a while despite a few setbacks that were resolved with meds tweaking. When I had to come off of Lithium thanks to my serum levels to try a new medication cocktail is when all hell broke loose. I guess I was a ticking time bomb though. 

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I would say my BPI has become more complex to medicate and treat, and that I am more often symptomatic, but like anything else, you get better with practice.  I can deal with "levels" of BP now that would have put me in the hospital for very long periods of time years ago.  I am much quicker to notice early symptoms and know what to do to treat them.  Also, in my case I rarely have new symptoms, which means that for the most part, I've dealt with just about everything that comes along.  But when a new symptoms does hit, it can be devastating.  

 

And for me, one of the biggies, is that I've stopped listening to and trying to live up to the standards that so many people said I should have.  If I don't go out of the house for three days straight, people can just get over it.  If I feel that going to some family event is going to cause great anxiety and possibly make me sick, I don't go and if they try to hassle me about it, I ask that the quit before I have to stop answering their phone calls.  I've also let go of the kind of bullshit guilt that tries to tell me that I have let people down and should bad about myself.  

 

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I need more from my pdoc and less from my tdoc.

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In a way I am in better place then I was in my teens. Coming to peace with myself helped a lot. Learning about myself and what I need and taking good care of myself... in this way, it's better. I know that episode is not the end of the world.

 

In some ways it's "worse", but I think it might be due to "life" rather than "bipolar". At least for me. It's not episodes itself that weight me down... it's some of the experiences, the disappointments and all. Tbh, that has been my issue lately... much greater than moodswings. I can control those with my "toolbox"... to big degree. I cannot control happenings in my family, dealing with other people, trying to make sense of what I wanna do in life... all that.

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My bipolar has gotten worse as I have aged (i'm 37) but I'm also far more educated about it than I used to be, which helps. I'm BP1 and my last manic episode was one of the worst yet. Took a lot of med tweaks to get stable. In fact, worried that i'm heading into another one now. Which means the same old-med tweaks with pdoc, talking to tdoc, trying to keep myself out of trouble, etc. I've finally accepted my dx as I've aged, which also helps! And yes-toolbox helps tremendously. My toolbox gets fuller as i age.

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I was diagnosed with BP at age 17, I'm 28 now. Before that it was depression and anxiety, with a side of borderline PD.

Between 17 and 23 I got so much worse. I had ECT when I was 23. I have much more insight now. The psychosis peaked when I was 22.

I'm doing a LOT better now at 28 with a support system, good meds and a good pdoc. I'm going through less med tweaks and taking less meds than I was 5 years ago.

BP does kindle (gets worse each episode) if left untreated. Newer, sometimes better, meds keep coming out and more is being understood.

It varies per person I suppose.

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My BP1  has definitely gotten worse, with more frequency and more severe episodes.  I do not suffer terrible depression, but the manic end has gotten much more severe.

I keep expecting things to get better.  Why?  It can't get much worse.  I found this anecdotal experience (link) from googling "bipolar burnout."  

I had heard that some people age out of it -- the burnout...which is not a negative in this context.  Burnout has not happened yet for me and I am 60-ish.

All I can advise is that you take very good care of yourself.  I think one thing I could have done is not drink as much.  So much for self medication.

Now I exercise a lot, very seldom drink, watch my diet, etc.  The one thing I have not done much is meditation.  I never seem to "find time" for it.  That probably needs to change.

 

http://over-50.typepad.com/over-50/2010/07/over50-does-a-bipolar-condition-burn-out-with-aging.html

 

ETA:  I am very med compliant.  Still trying to find the right med.

Edited by Will
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I just wanted to add, for the sake of general knowledge, while kindling theory is widely held to be valid among professionals, some studies contradict it. The paper I read said that bipolar definitely worsens with age, but they were questioning the kindling model, which was originally based on epilepsy.

 

It wasn't a hell of a lot of info, I think it was a one of those papers that presents a new theory, and not so much evidence. But the reason I was interested was because I knew two of the people who authored the paper, and I knew even they used to support kindling theory.

 

ugh, I can't find it. It was done at U of Pitt, and the people I knew were Ellen and Alan, and I don't remember their last names because that is what I always called them. Ellen isn't an MD, but Alan is. Aren't I helpful?

 

Actually, that was quite helpful.  Here is a link which discusses the paper...on About.com.   About.com is about the closest I come to in-depth analysis.

http://bipolar.about.com/cs/brainchemistry/a/0102_kindling2.htm

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