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09/13/2012 06:59 AM

bipolar gets worse with age?

TenaceFemme
TenaceFemme  
Posts: 517
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Ok it would be so helpfull to hear from some expeirance here. So i just read bipolar gets worse the older you get as soon as i read this i didnt want to live anymore. Im suffering. It started at a young age wasnt diagnosable till 24. Ive heard of people getting better as they age and ive held that in my heart to keep me alive. Anybody want to share their experiences with me?
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09/13/2012 07:11 AM
buzzingmind
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Senior Member

Sorry, i am 43 and have only been diagosed for 2 years so I cant say if I have changed. I dont like the sound of that though!

09/13/2012 07:26 AM
sarahtroy
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I am not a doctor. I have bipolar disorder. My responses are based on my own experience, reading and research.

QUESTION: "I know bipolars begin to experience cognitive damage with each untreated manic episode but do BPs on medication also experience this cognitive damage?"

Yes. Bipolar is a progressive, organic brain disease.

Bipolar is a major mental disease (or disorder). Research on the major mental disorders, such a bipolar, schizophrenia, major depression, and Alzheimer's disease, shows: A) Deterioration of the brain occurs slowly over the lifespan in each of these disorders. B.) This deterioration is both structural and functional. C) There are differences between how the brain looks in each of these disorders. In other words, the brain of a bipolar has structural and functional deterioration that is different from the brain of a major depressive disorder. D) In each of these disorders, we know that active phases of the disease, or "episodes," accelerates brain deterioration.

In bipolar, the "episode" used as the marker for brain deterioration is the hypomanic or manic episode. So, one thing observed in bipolars is that as they age (due to the underlying organic deterioration) "episodes" of hypomania or mania gradually become more intense and frequent, with a fewer number of years between episodes. This pattern of deterioration occurs in all bipolars, whether they are un-medicated, under-medicated, or medicated.

There is simply no "cure" for bipolar.

Does medication slow the progressive nature of the disease? Yes, because effective treatments (medications) for bipolar decrease the intensity or frequency of hypomania or mania, or increase the number of years between episodes.

Therefore, a bipolar who is effectively (adequately) medicated will experience less brain deterioration over time than a bipolar who is under-medicated or un-medicated.

Do we know more about lithium than other bipolar meds? Yes. Because lithium has been studied the longest, we know more about it than any other bipolar medication. Research shows effective treatment with lithium can, in some people, help the brain to heal the damage done by "episodes." Can other bipolar meds do this? We just don't know. More research is needed.

How much of a difference is there between the brains of effectively (adequately) medicated bipolars and the brains of un-medicated or under-medicated bipolars? A lot. It has been established for a while that the brains of untreated Schizophrenics deteriorate similarly to the brains of Alzheimer patients over time. Now, the newer research is showing that the brains of untreated bipolars deteriorate like the brains of untreated schizophrenics over time. Hence, the brains of untreated bipolars have been compared to the brains of Alzheimer's patients over time.

http://www.bipolar-lives.com/bipolar-brain-imaging.html - Accelerated shrinking of grey matter of brain

http://www.pendulum.org/disease.htm#enlargedventricles - Disease process of Bipolar and Schizophrenia

http://www.amenclinics.com/brain-science/spect-image- gallery/spect-atlas/images-of-bipolar-disorder-and- schizophrenia/ - Images of Bipolar disorder and Schizophrenia

http://www.loni.ucla.edu/~thompson/projects.html - Current neuroscience projects

________________________________________________________

THE BIPOLAR BRAIN – WHERE AND WHAT HAS GONE WRONG?

VENTRAL STRIATUM --- WHAT IT DOES: Helps the brain process rewards. WHAT HAS GONE WRONG: Studies show overactivity and a 30% loss in gray matter in this region, causing people to lose judgment about how certain behaviors, such as overspending or being sexually indiscriminate, will affect their lives.

PREFRONTAL CORTEX -- WHAT IT DOES: Parts of the prefrontal cortex regulate emotion and are instrumental in processing rewards and motivation. WHAT HAS GONE WRONG: Studies show a 20% to 40% reduction in gray matter-the result of a loss of the branches that connect neurons.

AMYGDALA -- WHAT IT DOES: One of the brain's emotional centers; helps in the recognition of facial expressions and tones of voice. Neural transmissions increase in response to emotional stimuli. Normally, repeated exposure to the same experiences or images leads to habituation, or reduced response. WHAT HAS GONE WRONG: Habituates slowly to some stimuli, remaining reactive beyond the usual response time.

HIPPOCAMPUS --WHAT IT DOES: One of the brain's memory centers. One layer of the hippocampus, the subiculum, helps recognize contexts that represent danger or reward. WHAT HAS GONE WRONG: Loss of branches that connect neurons may lead to a constant state of anxiety because the person can no longer identify safe situations.

BRAIN STEM ---WHAT IT DOES: The raphe nucleus in the brain stem is home to serotonin cell bodies, which create and disperse the neurotransmitter to different parts of the brain. WHAT HAS GONE WRONG: Bipolar patients have a 40% loss of the serotonin 1a receptor in the raphe, which may contribute to atrophy of neurons and depression.

SOURCE: Wayne Drevets, M.D., National Institute of Mental Health

_________________________________________________________

QUESTION: "And do bipolars become med resistant over time?"

No. "Meds resistant" and "treatment resistant" are rather old-fashioned terms in psychiatry, dating back to the 1950's - 1980's. These terms are often used now-a-days because patients grasp the underlying concept so easily. The underlying concept implies that psychiatric patients can develop a "resistance" or "immunity" to their meds, just like people can develop such a response to antibiotics when they are over-used. This helps patients understand why meds need to be increased or changed. However, it is inaccurate.

Remember that bipolar is a progressive, organic brain disease, with a deteriorating course. Patients' meds need to be increased or changed over time partly because the underlying disease process has changed or progressed. Also, in general, psychiatry doesn't really know why meds for all mental disorders sometimes need to be changed. Mental disorders are also biochemical, and it probably has to do with subtle changes in our biochemistry. It may also have to do with the normal aging process of the brain.

QUESTION: "I ask this because even with a med compliant BP spouse, don't you always run the risk of them having a major manic episode that is resistant to meds?"

Yes, even with a med compliant bipolar spouse, there is always the risk of a major manic or hypomanic episode which will require a change or increase in medication.

QUESTION: "What's the good news?"

To provide a little balance, I should point out that EVERYONE'S brain deteriorates as they age. That's why we call it aging! We begin to loose brain power at about age 21. The brain of a normal 70 yr old is dramatically different from the brain of a normal 20 yr old.

_______________________________________________________

Hope something here helps. -Sarah

_______________________________________________________

This post originally appeared in: http://www.mdjunction.com/forums/bipolar-spouses- discussions/general-support/3847789-does-it-actually-ever- get-better/limitstart/10#3854594

_______________________________________________________


09/13/2012 07:51 AM
Enigma1969
Enigma1969  
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Thanks for the info Sarahtroy.

09/13/2012 01:51 PM
TenaceFemme
TenaceFemme  
Posts: 517
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Ive seen people get better and i trust the lord

09/13/2012 02:02 PM
Cthebird
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Well, with the proper treatment I've been much better the last 2 years than I was the 6.5 years prior. I'm hoping it will get even better.

I first experienced bipolar symptoms when I was 15. It wasn't very good, but somehow I avoided a real pdoc (I did see gdoc's for depression) until I was 21. Then, I didn't see a pdoc again until I was 29 or 30. My real diagnosis was only apparent at 31 after hell broke loose. So, I guess life before 31 was more manageable in a way. Yes, the years that just followed were hell (my bipolar 1 grew terrible and the meds I was on didn't work well enough), but it did change, and it changed slowly (need patience) and sometimes overnight.

I don't feel like a zombie and I'm in a good place with my meds now and their side effects (or lack thereof). I'm somewhere between accepting that I'll never take over from where I was pre-diagnosis and thinking that what will come will come and that can be good. After all, I've been through a hell of a lot, but now I can enjoy my husband/family, my pet bird, my nice home, my beautiful community, nature, my manual transmission car (I love it!), size lower jeans from the Gap, my beloved laptop. You get the picture. Whereas 3 years ago I called myself weak, I am now calling myself strong much of the time. Strong for what cards I've been dealt. That is something I accept now, but doesn't mean I can't go after reasonable dreams.

Post edited by: Cthebird, at: 09/13/2012 02:10 PM


09/14/2012 12:55 PM
sarahtroy
sarahtroy  
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TenaceFemme, I can identify with your experiences. My faith is what has gotten me through all of my bipolar trials.

Cthebird, Your post is so encouraging. It is so great to hear your story and know you are doing so well. I see you as very strong.

I think I am doing much better since I have gotten effective treatment. For me, time and patience are keywords. I'm not quite where you are at Cthebird, but I hope to get there soon.


09/15/2012 04:08 AM
hunkydorie
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My faith has given me comfort more than if I didn't have any. Sometimes it is hard to have faith that things are going to be okay. Cthebird, it sounds like you are doing quite well. I am trying to be on that bandwagon but it is difficult. I feel myself in somewhat of a depression that I know is situational at this time. If only to arise from it then I think I would be doing a lot better. I was dx'd with bp at 38 but know that I have had it for much longer than that. I was always dx'd with depression and never bp. What's up with docs who can't seem to get it striaght. I guess you may have sensed a little bit of anger there. At one point a doctor told me that I had a brain disorder. What's up with that. He could have just told me that I have bp. At the time I didn't understand all of this. This was when I was in my early 30's. Thank God the meds I'm on seem to be working well for me. I don't sense any real negative side effects which I am so grateful for. I wish that I didn't have to be on any meds because I think of the wear and tare on my liver having to metabolize all of these meds and it makes me po'd. But what can I do otherwise?

It's scary to think that bipolar gets worse with age. I haven't noticed that yet for myself. Maybe it's because the meds are keeping my stable. If they were not I would be in trouble and then I might feel for certain that aging causes the bipolar to get worse for myself.

Oh well, I could go on and on so I won't. Just wanted to vent for the mostpart.


09/15/2012 07:56 PM
Kelti
Kelti  
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I can say for myself at age 62 that my bipolar has gotten worse over the years and so has my anxiety. I just got out of the hospital in Aug after

09/15/2012 08:01 PM
Kelti
Kelti  
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a week long stay. Sorry my post got split in two. I am posting from my phone and hit submit by mistake.

Kelti.......

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