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Predicting Personalized Risk of Mood Recurrences in Youths and Young Adults With Bipolar Spectrum Disorder



With each recurrence the prognosis of bipolar disorder (BD) worsens, indicating the need to identify the factors associated with increased recurrence risk. The course of BD is heterogenous and although risk factors for recurrence for the group as a whole have been reported in the literature, identification of risk factors for a specific individual are crucial for developing personalized treatments.


A total of 363 recovered BD youths/young adults from the Course and Outcome of Bipolar Youth (COBY) study were included. Participants were evaluated on average every 7 months for a median of 12.5 years and interviewed with standard instruments. Risk factors of recurrence from the literature were used to build a risk calculator (RC) to predict recurrence risk at different time intervals.


Approximately 80% of participants had at least one syndromal recurrence and 60% had ≥2 recurrences, particularly depressions. The 6-month and 1-, 2-, 3-, and 5-year RC showed an accuracy between 72% and 82% for predicting any mood recurrences, and up to 80% for depression and 89% for hypo/mania (sensitivity/specificity both 0.74). The most influential recurrence risk factors were shorter recovery lengths, younger age at assessment, earlier mood onset, and more severe prior depression. Although important, other factors associated with recurrence risk, such as interepisodic subsyndromal mood symptoms and comorbidities, did not influence the RC score beyond factors noted above.


The RC provides a useful tool for predicting an individual's recurrence risk of depression and/or hypo/mania in BD youths and for developing personalized interventions and informing research. Replication studies are warranted.

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