This study was aimed at identifying differences in the prodromal symptoms and their duration, risk factors and markers of vulnerability in patients presenting a first episode mania (FEM) or psychosis (FEP) with onset in late adolescence or adulthood in order to guide tailored treatment strategies.
Patients with a FEM or FEP underwent a clinical assessment. Prodromes were evaluated with the Bipolar Prodrome Symptom Scale-Retrospective (BPSS-R). Chi-squared tests were conducted to assess specific prodromal symptoms, risk factors or markers of vulnerability between groups. Significant prodromal symptoms were entered in a stepwise forward logistic regression model. The probabilities of a gradual versus rapid onset pattern of the prodromes were computed with logistic regression models.
The total sample included 108 patients (FEM = 72, FEP = 36). Social isolation was associated with the prodromal stage of a FEP whilst Increased energy or goal–directed activity with the prodrome to a FEM. Physically slowed down presented the most gradual onset whilst Increased energy presented the most rapid. The presence of obstetric complications and difficulties in writing and reading during childhood were risk factors for FEP. As for markers of vulnerability, impairment in premorbid adjustment was characteristic of FEP patients. No specific risk factor or marker of vulnerability was identified for FEM.
Early characteristics differentiating FEP from FEM were identified. These findings might help shape early identification and preventive intervention programmes.