A recently published study has identified two patterns of symptoms which might hasten the diagnosis of bipolar disorder (BD) in young population. The symptoms could be helpful in giving early warning about the propensity for the disease in an individual since diagnosing BD is quite complicated.
Even though multiple genetic and environmental factors can lead to the development of the serious mental disorder, there has been a dearth of ways to identify behavioral traits that might be equally responsible. A team of international researchers examined 39 previous studies to analyze the prodromal symptoms or symptoms that indicate the onset of a disease before the development of more prominent signs.
The researchers found evidence of a range of psychopathological symptoms, behavioral changes and exposures correlating the screening of BD. The first pattern of symptoms was homotypic with symptoms similar to BD-like mood swings, major depression and periods of excitability. However, these had lower intensity. This meant that most young people with these symptoms did not develop BD later. However, it also meant those who were diagnosed with BD did show moderate to high propensity of embodying the same pattern.
The other pattern of symptoms was heterotypic which is different from BD. This included symptoms like attention disorders, anxiety and behavioral disorders like attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, in this case, both specificity and sensitivity were low, which implied that only a few young people struggling with these symptoms developed BD later and those with a confirmed diagnosis had fewer such symptoms. According to the researchers, the findings might not be accurate in devising an early warning system, they still hint towards the need for paying more attention to the disease.
The researchers also identified certain risk factors for developing BD by studying the already published data, such as exposure to drugs, head injuries, sexual or physical abuse, preterm birth and stress. Even though it might not be feasible for doctors to prevent the disease from developing if they knew about the risk factors, it could still be helpful in designing interventions at an early stage and prevent the disease from worsening.
Bipolar disorder is treatable
Bipolar disorder may not be completely curable, but its symptoms can be treated, especially when the diagnosis is ensured early. It afflicts nearly three adults out of 100 each year in the United States and the symptoms could manifest around 15 to 19 years of age. This novel study could be helpful in guiding future research about the development of BD, identifying youth at risk and understanding the link between different symptoms.
The researchers also suggested to study multiple risk factors for a better assessment of later diagnosis of the disease rather than focusing on single predictors. “It also remains to be explored whether different features or clusters of factors may have specific predictive value for particular aspects of BD,” they said.
If a loved one is grappling with the symptoms of bipolar disorder, professional help must be sought at the earliest. Sovereign Health is a leading behavioral health treatment provider in the U.S. with various evidence-based treatment programs offered at our reputed treatment centers for bipolar disorder and other mental disorders and addiction. You can call our 24/7 helpline to get connected to our residential treatment centers for bipolar disorder or chat online with one of our representatives for more information.