NIMH - NATIONAL INSTITUTE MENTAL HEALTH lots of info including the latest on a variety of mental illnesses.
Three types of symptoms emerged as powerful predictors of whether a youth with one parent with bipolar disorder will go on to develop the disorder, according to a study of 391 at-risk youth. The findings offer a much more specific roadmap than previously available for assessing risk of bipolar disorder early in at-risk youth, and one that is based on symptoms, not traditional psychiatric diagnoses. The symptoms identified—related to anxiety/depression, affective lability (unstable mood, including irritability), and low-level manic symptoms—also provide insight into what may be a high-risk syndrome or “prodrome” preceding the onset of bipolar spectrum disorder.
People with bipolar disorder experience marked, often extreme shifts in mood and energy. The disorder affects an estimated 2.6 percent of Americans. Someone with bipolar disorder experiences periods of depression alternating with periods of mania, a state marked by high energy, overconfidence, and frantic activity. The mood swings can severely disrupt a person’s ability to function normally; as many as 15 percent of those affected die by suicide. Despite this, there are often years-long delays before an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Research has suggested that a bipolar prodrome might precede the emergence of bipolar disorder by several years; the hope is that identifying the features of the prodrome could help guide an understanding of how the disorder emerges, and enable earlier detection and more timely and effective treatment.
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