Samia Huq:14 January 2018: A study has recently found that early anxiety and disorders of attention or behavior are two patterns of psychiatric symptoms that may help to identify young people at increased risk of developing bipolar disorder (BD).
According to researchers, early signs of BD can fall into a relatively characteristic "homotypic" pattern, consisting mainly of symptoms or other features associated with mood disorders; or a "heterotypic" pattern of other symptoms including anxiety and disruptive behavior.
Environmental risk factors and exposures can also contribute to BD risk. The team analyzed data from 39 studies of prodromal symptoms and risk factors for later development of BD.
BD is commonly preceded by early depression or other symptoms of mental illness, sometimes years before BD develops, as indicated by the onset of mania or hypomania.
The findings indicated that heterotypic pattern consisted of other types of prodromal symptoms, such as early anxiety and disorders of attention or behavior.
This pattern had low sensitivity and specificity: relatively few patients with such symptoms develop BD, while many young people without heterotopic symptoms do develop BD.
However, for most of these risk factors, both sensitivity and specificity are low. With further study, the patterns of prodromal symptoms and risk factors may lead to new approaches to identifying young persons who are likely to develop BD, and might benefit from early treatment.
The research is published in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry journal.