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Evidence suggests that cannabis use, childhood adversity, and urbanicity, in interaction with proxy measures of genetic risk, may facilitate onset of psychosis in the sense of early affective dysregulation becoming ‘complicated’ by, first, attenuated psychosis and, eventually, full-blown psychotic symptoms.
Data were derived from three waves of the second Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study (NEMESIS-2). The impact of environmental risk factors (cannabis use, childhood adversity, and urbanicity) was analyzed across severity levels of psychopathology defined by the degree to which affective dysregulation was ‘complicated’ by low-grade psychotic experiences (‘attenuated psychosis’ – moderately severe) and, overt psychotic symptoms leading to help-seeking (‘clinical psychosis’ – most severe). Familial and non-familial strata were defined based on family history of (mostly) affective disorder and used as a proxy for genetic risk in models of family history × environmental risk interaction.
In proxy gene–environment interaction analysis, childhood adversity and cannabis use, and to a lesser extent urbanicity, displayed greater-than-additive risk if there was also evidence of familial affective liability. In addition, the interaction contrast ratio grew progressively greater across severity levels of psychosis admixture (none, attenuated psychosis, clinical psychosis) complicating affective dysregulation.
Known environmental risks interact with familial evidence of affective liability in driving the level of psychosis admixture in states of early affective dysregulation in the general population, constituting an affective pathway to psychosis. There is interest in decomposing family history of affective liability into the environmental and genetic components that underlie the interactions as shown here.
The jumping to conclusions (JTC) reasoning bias and decreased working memory performance (WMP) are associated with psychosis, but associations with affective disturbances (i.e. depression, anxiety, mania) remain inconclusive. Recent findings also suggest a transdiagnostic phenotype of co-occurring affective disturbances and psychotic experiences (PEs). This study investigated whether JTC bias and decreased WMP are associated with co-occurring affective disturbances and PEs.
Data were derived from the second Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study (NEMESIS-2). Trained interviewers administered the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) at three time points in a general population sample (N = 4618). The beads and digit-span task were completed to assess JTC bias and WMP, respectively. CIDI was used to measure affective disturbances and an add-on instrument to measure PEs.
Compared to individuals with neither affective disturbances nor PEs, the JTC bias was more likely to occur in individuals with co-occurring affective disturbances and PEs [moderate psychosis (1–2 PEs): adjusted relative risk ratio (RRR) 1.17, 95% CI 0.98–1.41; and high psychosis (3 or more PEs or psychosis-related help-seeking behaviour): adjusted RRR 1.57, 95% CI 1.19–2.08], but not with affective disturbances and PEs alone, whereas decreased WMP was more likely in all groups. There was some evidence of a dose–response relationship, as JTC bias and decreased WMP were more likely in individuals with affective disturbances as the level of PEs increased or help-seeking behaviour was reported.
The findings suggest that JTC bias and decreased WMP may contribute to a transdiagnostic phenotype of co-occurring affective disturbances and PEs.
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