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The prevalence of late-life mania: a review




Since there is a worldwide steady increase in the number of individuals living longer and an expected increase in the number of older adults who will be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, there is a growing need to better understand late-life mania. We provide in this review a report of published studies focusing on the prevalence of late-life mania in the community and in senior psychiatric care facilities.


We conducted a search of PubMed and Psychinfo databases using combinations of the keywords bipolar, manic/a, manic depression, elderly, and older including English-language reports presenting quantitative data on the prevalence of mania in adults over the age of 50 years.


Eighteen out of 188 potentially eligible studies met our inclusion criteria, with most studies focusing on psychiatric inpatient samples. The overall prevalence of late-life mania was estimated to be 6.0% in the reported 1,519 older psychiatric inpatients. In elderly inpatients with bipolar disorder, the mean prevalence of late-onset mania was 44.2%. For other relevant care facilities, no firm conclusions could be drawn.


Late-life mania is not rare in older psychiatric inpatients and late-onset mania is associated with increased somatic comorbidity in patients aged 50 years and older. Several hypotheses regarding the relationship between somatic illness and late-life mania in the elderly have been proposed and studies on this relationship and the prevalence of late-life mania in different senior psychiatric care facilities deserve specific attention in future research projects.