There is a wide variety of tools to detect bipolar disorder in the earliest stages (prodromal) of the disease, where the first signs and symptoms appear. However, an interview is one of the most widely used tools and is the one best able to detect these first symptoms, both at the onset of the disease and in possible relapses. This is the conclusion of a study led by professionals from the Clínic Hospital, which reviewed all the studies carried out to date related to tools for the early diagnosis of bipolar disorder.
In addition to reviewing the tools most used, both at initial diagnosis and for possible relapses, the results were also evaluated according to specific patient populations, such as adults or adolescents. Thus, healthcare professionals can find out the validated tools best suited to a certain group of patients for the early detection of this disorder.
Some advantages of the interview as an early detection tool are that the professional can adapt it to the patient, answers are obtained instantly and non-verbal language can be observed. Changes in the patient's behaviour, which may be the first symptoms of the development of the disorder, can also be discerned. However, an interview is more expensive than a questionnaire, as it requires prior training and more time dedicated by the professional. Other tools, such as tests or checklists, are easier to administer but are more complicated to adapt to different groups of patients.
Early detection and intervention are essential for treating bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder affects almost 4% of the world population. Early diagnosis and intervention are essential for improving the evolution of the disease. However, there is a delay of almost 10 years from the first symptoms to the start of treatment.
This delay in diagnosis leads to an increase in the number of hospitalisations and the risk of suicide. Early diagnosis is important not only at the onset of the disease but also in the detection of possible relapses.
Therefore, the available diagnostic methods that best suit each patient should be periodically evaluated. Studies like this are a good tool for health professionals to make the best decisions and thus promote the detection of this type of disorder and improve the course of the disease.
Detection of bipolar disorder in the prodromal phase: A systematic review of assessment instruments.
Laura Álvarez-Cadenas, Paula García-Vázquez, Berta Ezquerra, Bryan J. Stiles, Guillermo Lahera, Nelson Andrade-González, Eduard Vieta. Journal of Affective Disorders 325 (2023) 399–412. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2023.01.012.