Episodic future thinking

What is episodic future thinking in bipolar disorder?

Episodic future thinking may be disrupted in people with bipolar disorder. It involves the mental construction, imagination or simulation of possible future events. This involves planning, problem-solving, coping, regulation of emotional states, and goal-motivated behaviour. Episodic future thinking associated with positive expectations of future events can positively influence behavioural outcomes.

Episodic future thinking can be measured in several ways. Structured tests involve presenting words, sentences, or pictures to which participants are asked to provide a related possible future event, with responses rated in terms of the number and specificity of episodic details provided. Interviews may be conducted asking participants to solve possible future problems, which are rated according to episodic specificity and detail in the answers.

What is the evidence regarding episodic future thinking?

Moderate quality evidence suggests less episodic future thinking in people with the disorder than in controls, which was similar to results found in people with depression or schizophrenia.

September 2021

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Last updated at: 1:59 pm, 15th February 2022
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