Challenges and developments in research of the early stages of bipolar disorder Academic Article uri icon

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  • Recently, attention in the field of bipolar disorder (BD) has focused on prevention, including early detection and intervention, as these strategies have the potential to delay, lessen the severity, or even prevent full-blown episodes of BD. Although knowledge of the neurobiology of BD has advanced substantially in the last two decades, most research was conducted with chronic patients. The objective of this paper is to comprehensively review the literature regarding the early stages of BD, to explore recent discoveries on the neurobiology of these stages, and to discuss implications for research and clinical care. The following databases were searched: PubMed, PsycINFO, Cochrane Library, and SciELO. Articles published in English from inception to December 2015 were retrieved. Several research approaches were used, including examination of offspring studies, retrospective studies, prospective studies of clinical high-risk populations, and exploration of the progression after the first manic episode. Investigations with neuroimaging, cognition assessments, and biomarkers provide promising (although not definitive) evidence of alterations in the neural substrate during the at-risk stage. Research on BD should be expanded to encompass at-risk states and aligned with recent methodological progress in neuroscience.


  • Brietzke, Elisa
  • Rosa, Adriane R
  • Pedrini, Mariana
  • Noto, Mariane N
  • Kapczinski, Flavio
  • Scott, Jan

publication date

  • October 2016