What Mental Illness Gets Worse With Age?

Ashok Bharucha

March 10, 2023

Ashok Bharucha

There is no one cause – it is a combination of genetics, how your brain works, your environment, and your lifestyle. Some people are more likely to develop mental health conditions because of a stressful job or home life, while others are at greater risk due to traumatic events. What Mental Illness Gets Worse With Age?


Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in older adults. It can severely impact a person’s quality of life and even increase their chances of suffering from another health condition, such as back problems or arthritis.

Many people develop depression as they get older, but certain stressful events can also cause it at different times throughout a person’s life. For example, if you lose your job or a family member dies, your mood can be more affected. What Mental Illness Gets Worse With Age?

Other signs that your depression is worsening include a loss of interest in activities that used to excite you and feelings of worthlessness or guilt. You may also notice that your symptoms tend to intensify at specific times instead of staying relatively stable from morning to evening.

Talking to a professional can help you understand why your depression is worsening and find the best treatment. Treatments can include medication, psychotherapy, and even complementary health approaches like yoga and meditation.


When you get older, anxiety can become more common. This is because aging brings about many changes in life, such as losing a spouse or a loved one, a chronic health condition, and the fear of disability.

Anxiety can be a normal stress response or become a problem when it interferes with daily activities and affects your quality of life. If you or an elderly adult you know has anxiety symptoms, seeking help from a mental health professional is essential.

Suppose you have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), for example. In that case, you may experience constant worries about your work, school, finances, and relationships, with physical symptoms like muscle tension, difficulty concentrating, sleep disturbances, and irritability.

Older adults with anxiety disorders are at higher risk for physical and cognitive decline, including dementia. Treatment options include medication, therapy, stress reduction, and coping skills.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme mood changes, such as mania (elevated emotions) or hypomania (less severe sensation). These changes can lead to serious problems in everyday life.

People with bipolar disorder often have problems with their relationships and may find it challenging to maintain healthy sleep patterns or routines. They also may have trouble concentrating and thinking clearly. What Mental Illness Gets Worse With Age?

Researchers believe that bipolar disorder gets worse with age because it affects the brain. This is thought to be caused by changes in the prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain that controls perception, senses, personality, and intelligence.

The good news is that a combination of medication and therapy can control bipolar. Medication helps to control mood swings and other symptoms, while therapy improves communication and social relationships.


The symptoms of schizophrenia often get worse as people age. The leading cause is the loss of brain tissue due to the condition, which eats away at your nerve cells and other brain areas over time.

Symptoms of schizophrenia include delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized thinking and speech. These can make it difficult to concentrate on work, study, or speak clearly.

Delusions are false beliefs that aren’t backed up by facts. They can be so strong that a person may believe they’re in danger or are being controlled by others.

Hallucinations are when a person sees, hears, smells, or tastes something that doesn’t exist, but they think she is real. They can also be very ominous, such as hearing voices that tell them they’re in trouble.

Medication to reduce delusions and hallucinations, such as antipsychotics, can help. Individual and family therapy can also help people cope with the effects of schizophrenia and learn new ways to manage their symptoms.