Age at onset

How is age at onset important to people with bipolar disorder?

Age of onset of bipolar disorder varies between around 18 and 30 years. Differences observed in the age of onset may be influenced by genetic or environmental risk factors, or sex. Understanding the factors that impact on age at the onset of symptoms could lead to better understanding of the risk factors for the disorder and earlier and improved intervention strategies for patients.

What is the evidence for age at onset?

High quality evidence shows early age of onset is associated with increased severity of depression.

Moderate to high quality evidence suggests early age of onset is associated with having a personality disorder or longer delays to treatment.

Moderate quality evidence suggests early age of onset is associated with suicide attempts, anxiety disorder, substance use disorder, or alcohol 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.

April 2019

Last updated at: 12:03 am, 5th April 2019
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