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Clin Pract Epidemiol Ment Health. 2008 Jul 29;4:22. doi: 10.1186/1745-0179-4-22.

Bipolar disorder in late life: clinical characteristics in a sample of older adults admitted for manic episode.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Neurobiology, Pharmacology and Biotechnologies, University of Pisa, Via Roma, 67, Pisa, Italy.



Although manic episodes in older adults are not rare, little published data exist on late-life manic episodes. Resistance to treatment and concomitant neurological lesions are frequent correlates of elderly mania. The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of hospitalizations due to mania in patients older than 64 years through a period of 5 years in an Italian public psychiatric ward. Moreover, we aimed at describing clinical presentation of elderly manic episodes.


A retrospective chart review was conducted in order to describe clinical presentation of 20 elderly patients hospitalized for manic episode; moreover, we compared age at onset, the presence of family history for mood disorders, psychosis and irritability between the elderly group and a matched group of 20 younger manic inpatients.


Seven percent of the whole inpatient elderly people suffered from mania. Half of those patients had a mood disorder age at onset after 50 years and 5 patients were at their first manic episode. Geriatric- and adulthood mania showed similar clinical presentation but younger people had more frequently a mood disorders family history.


Half of our older manic inpatients consisted of "classic" bipolar patients with an extension of clinical manifestations into later life; the other half of our sample was heterogeneous, even though it was not possible to identify clearly which patients may have had vascular lesions related to the onset of mania.

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