While there is considerable current emphasis on youth and early psychosis, relatively little is known about the lives of people who live with psychotic disorders into middle age and beyond. We investigated social functioning, physical health status, substance use and psychiatric symptom profile in people with psychotic disorders aged between 50 and 65 years.
Data were collected as part of the Survey of High Impact Psychosis, a population-based survey of Australians aged 18-65 years with a psychotic disorder. We compared those aged 50-65 years ( = 347) with those aged 18-49 years ( = 1478) across a range of measures.
The older group contained more women and more people with affective psychoses compared to the younger group. They were also more likely to have had a later onset and a chronic course of illness. The older group were more likely to have negative symptoms but less likely to exhibit positive symptoms; they also had lower current cognition, compared to the younger group. Compared to the younger group, the older group were more likely to be divorced/separated, to be living alone and to be unemployed. They had substantially lower lifetime use of alcohol and illicit substances, but rates of obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes mellitus were higher.
Our findings suggest that the characteristics of people with psychosis change significantly as they progress into the middle age and beyond. A better understanding of these differences is important in informing targeted treatment strategies for older people living with psychosis.