Does your Bipolar get worse with age?

By Sunny Sunshine Latest Activity December 19 at 10:52 am Views 247 Replies 9

Sunny Sunshine

Does your episodes get worse with age?

I'm 40 years old, diagnosed at age 25. Until 9 years ago I was only on Zoloft and Topamax. Since I turned 31 I started needing Seroquel an Lamictal. From there on it's been downhill for me. I had 6 hospitalizations, I've been on all possible medications (Zyprexa, Abilify, Seroquel, lithium, you name it). My work suffered as a result of my episodes. I've been on a stable dose of Geodon for 6 years at least. Other medications needed to be changed. I'm on the highest dose of Lamictal and my antidepressant (Valdoxane). I need a sleeping tablet and Klonopin to sleep. I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was 35, the medication did change my life. But, I had 3 hospitalizations last year. Ok, all for the same episode. At least I can say I'm on the least medication I've been on in the last 9 years. I'm trying to take out disability cover. Have all sorts of co-morbidities. Hypothyroidism and back and neck spasms etc. that aggravate my mood disorder. Not sure if I will get the cover.
My manager doesn't think that I'm able to do my job any longer. I got another job and resigned. I want to be stable again. I was stable for 4 years until 2011. I was quite resilient. I worked for a dictator who would pull me apart if he knew about my diagnosis - (maybe it motivated me to stay well. And I had no time to be ill)
What is your story? How has your illness progressed? What helps you keep stable. Work stress is a trigger for me. And an overactive thyroid. What is your trigger?

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Replies (9 replies)

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  • sanityseeker
    sanityseeker December 19 at 5:17 pm   

    Wow - So much of our story is similar. I am seven years ahead of you though. I would say that my worst years were between 40 and 45. I was hospitalized for mania and depression numerous times. I took my meds, saw my dr once a month - sometimes more and went to therapy.

    I did whatever I could possibly do to remain stable and still got manic. I also took Lamictal and Seroquel and still do but my doses have decreased.

    The last manic episode - my family took me to Mayo Clinic. I think that was the turning point. They picked apart my entire history and diagnosed some other issues contributing to my problems like Generalized Anxiety Disorder. They hooked me up with a psychiatrist at Rush In Chicago and a therapist who specializes in CBT.

    So I am now 47. For the last few years I have been more stable than I have been since diagnosis in 1995. I work at it everyday though. I did get approved for disability so the stress of work is off my plate. I do believe that avoiding stress has helped me - i also use meditation and relaxation exercises.

    So in my case I feel my life is improving. I'm still fighting and it feels like managing this disease is a full time job.

    Nice to meet you Sunny.

  • John Bukowski Galt
    John Bukowski Galt December 19 at 11:48 am   

    The existing body of research suggests that bipolar episodes get worse in frequency and severity as one ages. However, there are exceptions.

  • Sunny Sunshine
    Sunny Sunshine December 19 at 11:56 am   

    Is it possible to prevent it from happening? How do you suggest to avoid episodes? I believe I'm doing everything in my power to manage my condition. I see my Dr monthly, therapist bi weekly, I am strict with my medication, I sleep enough, I ask for my friends support when I need it… But I still get episodes. However in my job I left now my manager knew about my bipolar and I think she tried to manage the disorder. Telling me I look terrible, predicting episodes. Nobody else notices. Not even my friends. Maybe the new job with nobody knowing my diagnosis will be good for me. You are always so knowledgable. Maybe you have some advice.

  • John Bukowski Galt
    John Bukowski Galt December 19 at 12:59 pm   
    Edited December 19 at 1:02 pm by John Bukowski Galt

    It sounds like you are doing what you can to prevent episodes. Keeping regular pdoc and therapist appointments is one of the best things you can do, as is sleeping regularly and getting as much exercise as you can. Good diet is of course a must. Some people have found the gluten free thing to do wonders. I don't have any experience with it, though.

    Staying on top of your chronic pain is a must in preventing depressions. Any way that you can prevent pain from occuring, the better. Physical therapy might help. Studies show that chronic pain exacerbates mood disorders big time.

    Have you ever considered Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TCMS) for your bipolar? It may also help with chronic pain and maybe even the ADHD. TCMS is pretty groundbreaking. Not all insurances cover it.

    Accupuncture and other such therapies may also help with symptomatic relief.

    Some studies show that lithium exerts neuroprotective effects. This research is in its infancy, though.

    Positive lifestyle changes are the best thing you can do for yourself.

    Also, never, EVER stop any medication suddenly. Always taper unless directed by a doctor. Suddenly stopping can cause a rebound effect and change the way your brain may react to that med or other meds in the future.

  • Sunny Sunshine
    Sunny Sunshine December 19 at 2:12 pm   

    O and I will never stop my medication without my pdoc. Medication is the most powerful way to control my episodes. However my sister and previous boss said I'm poisoning myself. I should consider stopping it! Crazy. Highly educated people making silly statements like that!

  • Sunny Sunshine
    Sunny Sunshine December 19 at 2:09 pm   

    I don't think TCMS is available in South Africa. But will look into it. I see a physiotherapist on a regular basis and she uses acupuncture. It works wonders for my pain. I responded badly to lithium, so no go for me. But I will look into TCMS. Thanks for the advice

  • John Bukowski Galt
    John Bukowski Galt December 19 at 2:11 pm   

    No problem. Anytime. Best of luck to you! Stay well :)

  • sinners1991
    sinners1991 December 19 at 11:01 am   

    I'd like to know the general trend cause if it's gonna get worse, then I'm sorta scared. Cause I do not have a support system.

  • Sunny Sunshine
    Sunny Sunshine December 19 at 11:48 am   

    I have a very good dr and psychologist. 3 good friends who are almost always on my side, but don't see them often. My sister is highly opinionated. If it wasn't for my therapist I don't know. Do you have that type of support?