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Predictors of new-onset bipolar disorder (BD) or psychotic disorder (PD) have been proposed on the basis of retrospective or prospective studies of ‘at-risk’ cohorts. Few studies have compared concurrently or longitudinally factors associated with the onset of BD or PDs in youth presenting to early intervention services. We aimed to identify clinical predictors of the onset of full-threshold (FT) BD or PD in this population.
Multi-state Markov modelling was used to assess the relationships between baseline characteristics and the likelihood of the onset of FT BD or PD in youth (aged 12–30) presenting to mental health services.
Of 2330 individuals assessed longitudinally, 4.3% (n = 100) met criteria for new-onset FT BD and 2.2% (n = 51) met criteria for a new-onset FT PD. The emergence of FT BD was associated with older age, lower social and occupational functioning, mania-like experiences (MLE), suicide attempts, reduced incidence of physical illness, childhood-onset depression, and childhood-onset anxiety. The emergence of a PD was associated with older age, male sex, psychosis-like experiences (PLE), suicide attempts, stimulant use, and childhood-onset depression.
Identifying risk factors for the onset of either BD or PDs in young people presenting to early intervention services is assisted not only by the increased focus on MLE and PLE, but also by recognising the predictive significance of poorer social function, childhood-onset anxiety and mood disorders, and suicide attempts prior to the time of entry to services. Secondary prevention may be enhanced by greater attention to those risk factors that are modifiable or shared by both illness trajectories.