Do the Symptoms of Bipolar Get Worse With Age?

Yes, it does, and I can attest to this. The symptoms of bipolar get worse with age, and studies back this up, I for one, have been experiencing this as I approach my fifth decade. In the space of five years, I have had several severe depressive episodes and two hypomanic spells. I’m currently in my sixth depressive episode.

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It has been shown via research that the depressive episodes are more prevalent the older you become and unlike other mental illnesses where the symptoms may improve with age, bipolar does not; in fact, it can even age you based on studies of DNA telomeres, the longer the length of the telomere the better, but with bipolar they shorten quicker, and this can bring on earlier ageing than the average person.

Telomeres act as protective caps on the ends of DNA strands. Each time a cell divides, the telomere becomes shorter, until it is so short that the cell can no longer replicate.

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With earlier ageing, this can make bipolar worse. It is an aspect of the illness that I find difficult and explains why I could have many spells of normality in my youth. Still, as I am middle-aged now, I fear I have a lot more to come in the way of mental instability, especially if my psychiatrist cannot balance my medication.

But I also have a responsibility, and although my bipolar is currently out of control, there are things that I must do to try and impose a near balance. As symptoms of bipolar get worse with age, I have to be aware that I have to restrict myself and add things into my daily and weekly routines to help me.

Symptoms of Bipolar Get Worse with Age

bipolar get worse with age man with head in hands

I am entering a new age in my life where I have to deal with the onslaught of bipolar disorder and its array of symptoms. I will need new coping mechanisms to thrive. I wrote an article on thriving with bipolar disorder, and I need to increase my take on this as with the progression of age, I need to do this even more now than before.

Getting older with bipolar disorder means a lot of hard work is ahead.

In a recent study, they researched the differences between people with bipolar and here is their conclusion.

Regardless of age at onset, the passage of decades in bipolar illness appears to bring an increase in the predominance of depressive symptoms in individuals in their third, fourth and fifth decades and an earlier age of onset portends a persistently greater depressive symptom burden.


Coping With the Increase in Symptoms

The first thing I need to do is sort my medication out; for some reason, my doctor is resistant to putting me on Lithium, even though it worked well in my younger days. So I’ll be pushing for this.

The second thing is I need regular therapy, and this is not easy to come by in the UK. Within the NHS, there are some very long waiting lists. Especially now since the onset of the pandemic and the whole country is dealing with some mental health issues, either through the effects of long covid or because of the stresses and strains, it has placed on all of us.

[AF] I will be using Online Therapy for cognitive behavioural therapy sessions in conjunction with counselling. The therapy starts at £23.96 per week, which in my eyes is very reasonable compared to others online or offline. You can get a 20% discount on your first month of therapy at the moment.


[AF] The second online service I am going to use is Calmerry, they offer counselling, and as my condition will worsen over time, I will need to speak to a counsellor to get through it.

These will be my two main sources of mental health therapy, and I hope my psychiatrist will put me on the waiting list for occupational therapy again. This really helps me cope with day-to-day scenarios.

I need a lot of therapy.

Life in The Old Dog Yet

life in the old dog yet bipolar disorder getting worse

As the saying goes, there is life in this old dog yet, and I will not be beaten by bipolar, and even though I know a lot about it based on experience, I know that there are a few things that will no doubt surprise me and I will have to deal with.

I am lucky that my family is a great support network for me, and I hope others have a similar system in place, but it is not always possible, so therapy is so vitally important.

I will have to learn new tricks in dealing with depression alongside my current arsenal of battling the condition. The symptoms of bipolar get worse with age; this is a challenge for me, a new venture into my illness, but it can be managed, and I will be doing my best to seek out all the possibilities to improve myself.

The diagnosis is not the end; the journey begins with acceptance.

Peace & Blessings


i'm not a doctor

Lou Farrell

Welcome to the mental health blog of Lou Farrell. I am a writer and copywriter who pens all manner of articles relating to mental wellness and mental illness. I write about my own experiences and the knowledge I have gained over the years as someone who has bipolar disorder. I hope you enjoy the website :-)

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