Treating people early, as soon as they start to show signs of distress, is now seen as the best way of dealing with mental-health problems. A team of researchers, led by Michael Berk from the University of Melbourne in Australia, has been reviewing the evidence supporting such early intervention for treatment with bipolar disorder. They found that in the early stages of bipolar disorder there are few changes to people's brain structure and that it is only with repeated incidences that there is a loss of brain volume. The review found that both drug and talking therapies were more effective when given earlier in the course of the condition and that the longer people are ill the less well they respond to treatment. Overall the review backed early intervention for bipolar disorder and suggested that it is particularly important to start treatment before people's brains suffer irreparable changes.
Berk, Michael ... [et al] - Evidence and implications for early intervention in bipolar disorder Journal of Mental Health April 2010, 19(2), 113-126