Early intervention improves bipolar diagnosis

Bipolar disorder is a life long struggle for people who have been diagnosed, but what about the signs leading up to a diagnosis?

Liz Bevan

 

West Kootenay Advertiser

 

Bipolar disorder is a life long struggle for people who have been diagnosed, but what about the signs leading up to a diagnosis?

The Kootenay Boundary region has plenty of resources available to residents that could detect bipolar disorder early and lead to effective and sustained treatment.

The disorder tends to show up in patients in their late teens or early into the years of adulthood, but symptoms can show up sooner than that.

Changes in sleep schedules, loss of energy, difficulty concentrating, odd ideas, slowed or sped up thoughts, mood swings, and feelings of suspiciousness are just a few of the signs of a psychotic episode or disorder.

Randy Thiessen, team leader for Trail and Castlegar Mental Health and Substance Use with Interior Health (IH), says the first thing anyone should do when they have questions about symptoms is to go to their family doctor.

“The short answer is, go to your general practitioner (GP),” he said in an email.

Once a doctor’s appointment is set up, the doctor will first look for a family history of mental disorders or suicides.

Some mental health issues, like bipolar and schizophrenia, will be more prevalent if parents have struggled with the same thing.

After a family history is recorded, doctors should look at changes in behavioural patterns in the patient.

Bipolar disorder is marked by bouts of mania, or a highly elevated mood, followed by a severe depressive episode, usually lasting days or weeks. These episodes can also lead to psychosis — a detachment from reality with visual and auditory hallucinations.

From there, a family doctor is able to give a referral to a mental health professional in the community.

Early intervention is the golden ticket when dealing with mental health issues, like bipolar disorder, in youth.

It has been shown that early treatment leads to less suicides, a preservation of social skills and supports, a faster recovery and less need for a stay at the hospital.

Through IH, the province provides the Early Psychosis Initiative (EPI) hoping to catch mental health issues early on, leading to more comprehensive care for youth who have received a diagnosis, or for those who are wondering about their mental health.

It has been estimated that 80 per cent of patients who experience psychosis, whether from bipolar or even schizophrenia, first experience the phenomenon between the ages of 18 and 30. The longer a patient goes without treatment, the more difficult it is to tackle the disorder. While every patient is unique, waiting can also limit the effectiveness of proven treatments.

 

To find out more information about the province’s EPI program, or to take a look at resources available to people who are dealing with mental health issues and their families, visit www.earlypsychosis.ca, www.gpscbc.ca or www.heretohelp.bc.ca.

 

 

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