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The value of the nosological distinction between non-affective and affective psychosis has frequently been challenged. We aimed to investigate the transdiagnostic dimensional structure and associated characteristics of psychopathology at First Episode Psychosis (FEP). Regardless of diagnostic categories, we expected that positive symptoms occurred more frequently in ethnic minority groups and in more densely populated environments, and that negative symptoms were associated with indices of neurodevelopmental impairment.
This study included 2182 FEP individuals recruited across six countries, as part of the EUropean network of national schizophrenia networks studying Gene–Environment Interactions (EU-GEI) study. Symptom ratings were analysed using multidimensional item response modelling in Mplus to estimate five theory-based models of psychosis. We used multiple regression models to examine demographic and context factors associated with symptom dimensions.
A bifactor model, composed of one general factor and five specific dimensions of positive, negative, disorganization, manic and depressive symptoms, best-represented associations among ratings of psychotic symptoms. Positive symptoms were more common in ethnic minority groups. Urbanicity was associated with a higher score on the general factor. Men presented with more negative and less depressive symptoms than women. Early age-at-first-contact with psychiatric services was associated with higher scores on negative, disorganized, and manic symptom dimensions.
Our results suggest that the bifactor model of psychopathology holds across diagnostic categories of non-affective and affective psychosis at FEP, and demographic and context determinants map onto general and specific symptom dimensions. These findings have implications for tailoring symptom-specific treatments and inform research into the mood-psychosis spectrum.
A growing body of evidence suggests that indicators of social disadvantage are associated with an increased risk of psychosis. However, only a few studies have specifically looked at cumulative effects and long-term associations. The aims of this study are: To compare the prevalence of specific indicators of social disadvantage at, and prior to, first contact with psychiatric services in patients suffering their first episode of psychosis and in a control sample. To explore long-term associations, cumulative effects, and direction of effects.
We collected information on social disadvantage from 332 patients and from 301 controls recruited from the local population in South London. Three indicators of social disadvantage in childhood and six indicators of social disadvantage in adulthood were analysed.
Across all the domains considered, cases were more likely to report social disadvantage than were controls. Compared with controls, cases were approximately two times more likely to have had a parent die and approximately three times more likely to have experienced a long-term separation from one parent before the age of 17 years. Cases were also more likely than controls to report two or more indicators of adult social disadvantage, not only at first contact with psychiatric services [odds ratio (OR) 9.5], but also at onset of psychosis (OR 8.5), 1 year pre-onset (OR 4.5), and 5 years pre-onset (OR 2.9).
Greater numbers of indicators of current and long-term exposure are associated with progressively greater odds of psychosis. There is some evidence that social disadvantage tends to cluster and accumulate.
Evidence has accumulated that implicates childhood trauma in the aetiology of psychosis, but our understanding of the putative psychological processes and mechanisms through which childhood trauma impacts on individuals and contributes to the development of psychosis remains limited. We aimed to investigate whether stress sensitivity and threat anticipation underlie the association between childhood abuse and psychosis.
We used the Experience Sampling Method to measure stress, threat anticipation, negative affect, and psychotic experiences in 50 first-episode psychosis (FEP) patients, 44 At-Risk Mental State (ARMS) participants, and 52 controls. Childhood abuse was assessed using the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire.
Associations of minor socio-environmental stress in daily life with negative affect and psychotic experiences were modified by sexual abuse and group (all pFWE < 0.05). While there was strong evidence that these associations were greater in FEP exposed to high levels of sexual abuse, and some evidence of greater associations in ARMS exposed to high levels of sexual abuse, controls exposed to high levels of sexual abuse were more resilient and reported less intense negative emotional reactions to socio-environmental stress. A similar pattern was evident for threat anticipation.
Elevated sensitivity and lack of resilience to socio-environmental stress and enhanced threat anticipation in daily life may be important psychological processes underlying the association between childhood sexual abuse and psychosis.
There is strong evidence that those with a long-standing psychotic disorder have fewer social contacts and less social support than comparison groups. There is less research on the extent of social contacts and support prior to or at the onset of psychosis. In the light of recent evidence implicating a range of social experiences and contexts at the onset of psychosis, it is relevant to establish whether social networks and support diminished before or at the time of onset and whether the absence of such supports might contribute to risk, either directly or indirectly. We, therefore, conducted a systematic review of this literature to establish what is currently known about the relationship between social networks, support and early psychosis.
We identified all studies investigating social networks and support in first episode psychosis samples and in general population samples with measures of psychotic experiences or schizotype by conducting systematic searches of electronic databases using pre-defined search terms and criteria. Findings were synthesized using non-quantitative approaches.
Thirty-eight papers were identified that met inclusion criteria. There was marked methodological heterogeneity, which limits the capacity to draw direct comparisons. Nonetheless, the existing literature suggests social networks (particularly close friends) and support diminished both among first episode samples and among non-clinical samples reporting psychotic experiences or with schizotype traits, compared with varying comparison groups. These differences may be more marked for men and for those from minority ethnic populations.
Tentatively, reduced social networks and support appear to pre-date onset of psychotic disorder. However, the substantial methodological heterogeneity among the existing studies makes comparisons difficult and suggests a need for more robust and comparable studies on networks, support and early psychosis.
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