Depression affects up to 350,000,000 people around the world at any given time. In the United States, 5.7 million adults are affected by not only depression, but manic depression. Manic depression, also known as Bipolar Disorder, is a mental illness characterized by unusual changes in the mood for long periods of time. These periods, called episodes, typically consist of extreme highs and lows in mood and behavior.
While those suffering from Bipolar Disorder are often aware of the behavioral effects of their condition such as irritability, impulsiveness, and aggression, studies show that the cognitive effects of Bipolar Disorder can actually increase as the patient ages.
Changes in cognitive functioning in elderly patients with Bipolar Disorder
Problems with cognitive functioning can often be frustrating even in youth for those suffering from Bipolar Disorder. These common cognitive deficits often include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Unwanted or unnerving interrupted thoughts
- Racing thoughts
- Slowed activity
These characteristics of cognitive deficits shift and change as the patient ages. As a result, those who are elderly with Bipolar Disorder have often come to experience difficulty with verbal fluency, verbal memory, processing speed, and executive functioning.
These results were concluded by the Geriatric Psychiatry Mood Disorders Research Program at McLean Hospital of Belmont, Massachusetts. The team of researchers studied up to 97 adult volunteers at the average age of 69. Compared to the control subjects, those volunteers suffering from Major Depressive Disorder and Bipolar Disorder showed significant deficits in global functioning, intelligence, and neuropsychological functioning.
What does this mean for the aging patient suffering from Bipolar Disorder?
The results of the study indicate that those who are elderly and suffering from Bipolar Disorder have a greater medical burden than those without MDD or Bipolar Disorder. Cognitive deficits are often associated with medical co-morbidities such as the co-morbidity of depression and anxiety in those suffering from Parkinson’s Disease.
Knowing the increase in cognitive deficiency in elderly Bipolar patients is actually beneficial because it can give patients and caretakers a better outcome for clinical intervention.
What is an acute psychiatric hospital?
Acute psychiatric hospitals are neuropsychiatric hospitals for those who feel they are experiencing a crisis they cannot handle without professional help. For instance, a patient experiencing a manic episode that is effecting their health may check themselves into a hospital for a neuropsychiatric evaluation.
Acute psychiatric hospitals can more effectively treat elderly patients should they need medication management or safety monitoring, as well. Patients can call loved ones, talk to neuropsychiatric doctors and social workers, and receive visitors while they are seeking treatment.
Should you or a loved one need professional assistance during a manic episode, a compassionate neuropsychiatric hospital such as acute psychiatric hospitals may be the best option for you. Make sure you’re aware of how these episodes can affect your loved ones as they age.