In what age groups is the onset of bipolar affective disorder (manic-depressive illness) most likely?

Updated: May 06, 2018
  • Author: Stephen Soreff, MD; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
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Answer

The age of onset of bipolar disorder varies greatly. For both BPI and BPII, the age range is from childhood to 50 years, with a mean age of approximately 21 years. Most cases of bipolar disorder commence when individuals are aged 15–19 years. The second most frequent age range of onset is 20–24 years.

Some patients diagnosed with recurrent major depression may indeed have bipolar disorder and go on to develop their first manic episode when older than 50 years. These individuals may have a family history of bipolar disorder. However, for most patients, the onset of mania in people older than 50 years should lead to an investigation for medical or neurologic disorders, such as cerebrovascular disease.

For more information, see the Medscape Reference article Pediatric Bipolar Affective Disorder.


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