Early recognition of psychoses and bipolar disorders

What are the signs of an increased vulnerability?

bildVulnerability means thinskinnedness, sensitivity, but also violability. In this connection, the – mostly unspecific – risk of falling ill with a psychic disorder can increase. Persons with an increased vulnerability can react with psychotic symptoms in stressful sections of life. The susceptibility exists in every person, however it is possibly increased if one or several “vulnerability factors” exist.

Vulnerability factors are e.g. a genetic burden, if one of your close relatives has a psychosis or a bipolar disorder, a low IQ, if you have had an injury or serious infection of the brain; if you started to smoke cannabis before your 15th year of life or if in your case pregnancy or birth complications existed.

bildEvery person passes through stable and less stable phases in his / her life, i.e. times with minor changes and others in which he / she has to find new coordinates and “relocate” him/herself anew. Periods of upheaval are e.g. puberty, school leaving examination, commitment to a partner, birth of a child, loss of a close person, loss of work, separation etc. If then current stresses are added, for very thin-skinned persons the probability of reacting in a psychotic way can increase. Despite this, the onset of the psychosis can be omitted through the protective effect of other factors (e.g. good social integration, good level of functioning, good coping abilities) so that a disorder is not inevitable.

Since crises in this sense cannot really be avoided, it is particularly important for sensitive persons to maintain own, family and social resources and develop their repertory of relaxation and coping strategies.

Examples of vulnerability factors

  • Genetic loading
  • Low IQ
  • Injury of the brain in the case history
  • Insufficient provision of care in the first to third year of life
  • Measles infection of the mother during pregnancy
  • Migration with negative experience
  • Cannabis consumption with start before the 15th year of life
  • Infection of the brain in the case history
  • Serious infection of the mother in the sixth month of pregnancy
  • Low birth weight
  • Lack of oxygen of the infant during birth
  • Early development disorders (delayed walking and talking)
  • Premature birth
  • Poor nutrition of the mother during the pregnancy
  • Introversion, self-referencing, relationship problems
  • Manifestation of a psychic disorder in early youth


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