Bipolar disorder, previously referred to as manic depression, has a prevalence of 1-2%. It is a diagnosed based on the presence of at least one manic episode, with or without a previous history of depression.
It has an onset largely in the teenage years, and thereafter follows a relapsing-remitting course.
Each relapse develops in a subacute fashion over weeks, with the mean relapse time of approximately 20 days. Treatment of a relapse can require hospitalisation for several weeks.
Bi-polar disorder unfortunately confers one of the largest risk factors for attempted suicide, 25% to 50% of patients with bipolar disorder also attempt suicide at least once.
We are investigating whether it is possible to predict the onset of a manic episode by analyzing mobile phone activity.
The work is being done with the Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre and Beyond Blue.