Early detection of persons with first signs of emerging psychosis is regarded as a promising strategy to reduce the burden of the disease. In recent years, there has been increasing interest in early detection of psychosis and bipolar disorders, with a clear need for sufficient sample sizes in prospective research. The underlying brain network disturbances in individuals at risk or with a prodrome are complex and yet not well known. This paper provides the rationale and design of a prospective longitudinal study focused on at-risk states of psychosis and bipolar disorder. The study is carried out within the context of the Zurich Program for Sustainable Development of Mental Health services (Zürcher Impulsprogramm zur Nachhaltigen Entwicklung der Psychiatrie). Persons at risk for psychosis or bipolar disorder between 13 and 35 years of age are examined by using a multi-level-approach (psychopathology, neuropsychology, genetics, electrophysiology, sociophysiology, magnetic resonance imaging, near-infrared spectroscopy). The included adolescents and young adults have four follow-ups at 6, 12, 24, and 36 months. This approach provides data for a better understanding of the relevant mechanisms involved in the onset of psychosis and bipolar disorder, which can serve as targets for future interventions. But for daily clinical practice a practicable "early recognition" approach is required. The results of this study will be useful to identify the strongest predictors and to delineate a prediction model.
Keywords: ZInEP; bipolar disorder; early recognition; high risk; psychosis.