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Public health measures to curb SARS-CoV-2 transmission rates may have negative psychosocial consequences in youth. Digital interventions may help to mitigate these effects. We investigated the associations between social isolation, COVID-19-related cognitive preoccupation, worries, and anxiety, objective social risk indicators, and psychological distress, as well as use of, and attitude toward, mobile health (mHealth) interventions in youth.
Data were collected as part of the “Mental Health And Innovation During COVID-19 Survey”—a cross-sectional panel study including a representative sample of individuals aged 16–25 years (N = 666; Mage = 21.3; assessment period: May 5, 2020 to May 16, 2020).
Overall, 38% of youth met criteria for moderate or severe psychological distress. Social isolation worries and anxiety, and objective risk indicators were associated with psychological distress, with evidence of dose–response relationships for some of these associations. For instance, psychological distress was progressively more likely to occur as levels of social isolation increased (reporting “never” as reference group: “occasionally”: adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 9.1, 95% confidence interval [CI] 4.3–19.1, p < 0.001; “often”: aOR 22.2, CI 9.8–50.2, p < 0.001; “very often”: aOR 42.3, CI 14.1–126.8, p < 0.001). There was evidence that psychological distress, worries, and anxiety were associated with a positive attitude toward using mHealth interventions, whereas psychological distress, worries, and anxiety were associated with actual use.
Public health measures during pandemics may be associated with poor mental health outcomes in youth. Evidence-based digital interventions may help mitigate the negative psychosocial impact without risk of viral infection given there is an objective need and subjective demand.
One putative psychological mechanism through which momentary stress impacts on psychosis in individuals with increased liability to the disorder is via affective disturbance. However, to date, this has not been systematically tested. We aimed to investigate whether (i) cross-sectional and temporal effects of momentary stress on psychotic experiences via affective disturbance, and (ii) the reverse pathway of psychotic experiences on stress via affective disturbance were modified by familial liability to psychosis.
The Experience Sampling Method was used in a pooled data set of six studies with three groups of 245 individuals with psychotic disorder, 165 unaffected first-degree relatives, and 244 healthy control individuals to index familial liability. Multilevel moderated mediation models were fitted to investigate indirect effects across groups cross-sectionally and multilevel cross-lagged panel models to investigate temporal effects in the proposed pathways across two measurement occasions.
Evidence on indirect effects from cross-sectional models indicated that, in all three groups, effects of stress on psychotic experiences were mediated by negative affect and, vice versa, effects of psychotic experiences on stress were mediated by negative affect, with all indirect effects being weakest in relatives. Longitudinal modelling of data provided no evidence of temporal priority of stress in exerting its indirect effects on psychotic experiences via affective disturbance or, vice versa.
Our findings tentatively suggest a rapid vicious cycle of stress impacting psychotic experiences via affective disturbances, which does, however, not seem to be consistently modified by familial liability to psychosis.
This study attempted to replicate whether a bias in probabilistic reasoning, or ‘jumping to conclusions’(JTC) bias is associated with being a sibling of a patient with schizophrenia spectrum disorder; and if so, whether this association is contingent on subthreshold delusional ideation.
Data were derived from the EUGEI project, a 25-centre, 15-country effort to study psychosis spectrum disorder. The current analyses included 1261 patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorder, 1282 siblings of patients and 1525 healthy comparison subjects, recruited in Spain (five centres), Turkey (three centres) and Serbia (one centre). The beads task was used to assess JTC bias. Lifetime experience of delusional ideation and hallucinatory experiences was assessed using the Community Assessment of Psychic Experiences. General cognitive abilities were taken into account in the analyses.
JTC bias was positively associated not only with patient status but also with sibling status [adjusted relative risk (aRR) ratio : 4.23 CI 95% 3.46–5.17 for siblings and aRR: 5.07 CI 95% 4.13–6.23 for patients]. The association between JTC bias and sibling status was stronger in those with higher levels of delusional ideation (aRR interaction in siblings: 3.77 CI 95% 1.67–8.51, and in patients: 2.15 CI 95% 0.94–4.92). The association between JTC bias and sibling status was not stronger in those with higher levels of hallucinatory experiences.
These findings replicate earlier findings that JTC bias is associated with familial liability for psychosis and that this is contingent on the degree of delusional ideation but not hallucinations.
Contemporary models of psychosis implicate the importance of affective dysregulation and cognitive factors (e.g. biases and schemas) in the development and maintenance of psychotic symptoms, but studies testing proposed mechanisms remain limited. This study, uniquely using a prospective design, investigated whether the jumping to conclusions (JTC) reasoning bias contributes to psychosis progression and persistence.
Data were derived from the second Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study (NEMESIS-2). The Composite International Diagnostic Interview and an add-on instrument were used to assess affective dysregulation (i.e. depression, anxiety and mania) and psychotic experiences (PEs), respectively. The beads task was used to assess JTC bias. Time series analyses were conducted using data from T1 and T2 (N = 8666), excluding individuals who reported high psychosis levels at T0.
Although the prospective design resulted in low statistical power, the findings suggest that, compared to those without symptoms, individuals with lifetime affective dysregulation were more likely to progress from low/moderate psychosis levels (state of ‘aberrant salience’, one or two PEs) at T1 to high psychosis levels (‘frank psychosis’, three or more PEs or psychosis-related help-seeking behaviour) at T2 if the JTC bias was present [adj. relative risk ratio (RRR): 3.8, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.8–18.6, p = 0.101]. Similarly, the JTC bias contributed to the persistence of high psychosis levels (adj. RRR: 12.7, 95% CI 0.7–239.6, p = 0.091).
We found some evidence that the JTC bias may contribute to psychosis progression and persistence in individuals with affective dysregulation. However, well-powered prospective studies are needed to replicate these findings.
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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