Age at onset

What is age at onset and bipolar disorder?

Differences observed in the age of onset of bipolar disorder may be influenced by genetic and/or environmental factors. Understanding these factors could lead to better understanding of the disorder, early identification, and improved intervention strategies for patients.

What is the evidence for age at onset?

Moderate to high quality evidence finds a trimodal distribution, with 45% showing an early-onset age (~17 years), 35% showing a mid-onset age (~26 years), and 20% showing a late-onset age (~42 years).

High quality evidence shows early age of onset is associated with increased severity of depression. Moderate to high quality evidence finds early age of onset is associated with having a personality disorder or longer delays to treatment. Moderate quality evidence finds early age of onset is associated with suicide attempts, anxiety disorders, and substance use disorders. There were no associations between early age of onset and severity of mania symptoms, first polarity being mania, psychotic symptoms, rapid cycling, or mixed bipolar episodes.

November 2021

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Last updated at: 12:21 pm, 31st October 2021
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Fact Sheet Technical Commentary
Tags:  Age at onset

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