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Empirical evidence suggests that people use cannabis to ameliorate anxiety and depressive symptoms, yet cannabis also acutely worsens psychosis and affective symptoms. However, the temporal relationship between cannabis use, anxiety and depressive symptoms and psychotic experiences (PE) in longitudinal studies is unclear. This may be informed by examination of mutually mediating roles of cannabis, anxiety and depressive symptoms in the emergence of PE.
Data were derived from the second longitudinal Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study. Mediation analysis was performed to examine the relationship between cannabis use, anxiety/depressive symptoms and PE, using KHB logit in STATA while adjusting for age, sex and education status.
Cannabis use was found to mediate the relationship between preceding anxiety, depressive symptoms and later PE incidence, but the indirect contribution of cannabis use was small (for anxiety: % of total effect attributable to cannabis use = 1.00%; for depression: % of total effect attributable to cannabis use = 1.4%). Interestingly, anxiety and depressive symptoms were found to mediate the relationship between preceding cannabis use and later PE incidence to a greater degree (% of total effect attributable to anxiety = 17%; % of total effect attributable to depression = 37%).
This first longitudinal cohort study examining the mediational relationship between cannabis use, anxiety/depressive symptoms and PE, shows that there is a bidirectional relationship between cannabis use, anxiety/depressive symptoms and PE. However, the contribution of anxiety/depressive symptoms as a mediator was greater than that of cannabis.
Evidence suggests that environmental factors not only increase psychosis liability but also influence the prognosis and outcomes of psychotic disorders. We investigated temporal and cross-sectional associations of a weighted score of cumulative environmental liability for schizophrenia – the exposome score for schizophrenia (ES-SCZ) – with functioning in first-episode psychosis (FEP).
Data were derived from the baseline and 1-month assessments of the Athens FEP Research Study that enrolled 225 individuals with FEP. The Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) and the Personal and Social Performance Scale (PSP) were used to measure social, occupational, and psychological functioning. The ES-SCZ was calculated based on the previously validated method.
ES-SCZ was associated with the total scores of GAF and PSP at baseline and 1-month assessments. These findings remained significant when accounting for several associated alternative explanatory variables, including other environmental factors (obstetric complications, migration, ethnic minority), clinical characteristics (duration of untreated psychosis, symptom severity, previous antipsychotic use), and family history of psychosis, demonstrating that the association between ES-SCZ and functioning is over and above other risk factors and cannot be explained by symptom severity alone. Functioning improved from baseline to 1-month assessment, but no significant ES-SCZ-by-time interaction was found on functioning, indicating that functioning changes were not contingent on ES-SCZ.
Our findings suggest that rather than a predictor of functional improvement, ES-SCZ represents a stable severity indicator that captures poor functioning in early psychosis. Environmental risk loading for schizophrenia (ES-SCZ) can be beneficial for clinical characterization and incorporated into transdiagnostic staging models.
The aim of the current study was to explore the effect of gender, age at onset, and duration on the long-term course of schizophrenia.
Twenty-nine centers from 25 countries representing all continents participated in the study that included 2358 patients aged 37.21 ± 11.87 years with a DSM-IV or DSM-5 diagnosis of schizophrenia; the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale as well as relevant clinicodemographic data were gathered. Analysis of variance and analysis of covariance were used, and the methodology corrected for the presence of potentially confounding effects.
There was a 3-year later age at onset for females (P < .001) and lower rates of negative symptoms (P < .01) and higher depression/anxiety measures (P < .05) at some stages. The age at onset manifested a distribution with a single peak for both genders with a tendency of patients with younger onset having slower advancement through illness stages (P = .001). No significant effects were found concerning duration of illness.
Our results confirmed a later onset and a possibly more benign course and outcome in females. Age at onset manifested a single peak in both genders, and surprisingly, earlier onset was related to a slower progression of the illness. No effect of duration has been detected. These results are partially in accord with the literature, but they also differ as a consequence of the different starting point of our methodology (a novel staging model), which in our opinion precluded the impact of confounding effects. Future research should focus on the therapeutic policy and implications of these results in more representative samples.
A cumulative environmental exposure score for schizophrenia (exposome score for schizophrenia [ES-SCZ]) may provide potential utility for risk stratification and outcome prediction. Here, we investigated whether ES-SCZ was associated with functioning in patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorder, unaffected siblings, and healthy controls.
This cross-sectional sample consisted of 1,261 patients, 1,282 unaffected siblings, and 1,525 healthy controls. The Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) scale was used to assess functioning. ES-SCZ was calculated based on our previously validated method. The association between ES-SCZ and the GAF dimensions (symptom and disability) was analyzed by applying regression models in each group (patients, siblings, and controls). Additional models included polygenic risk score for schizophrenia (PRS-SCZ) as a covariate.
ES-SCZ was associated with the GAF dimensions in patients (symptom: B = −1.53, p-value = 0.001; disability: B = −1.44, p-value = 0.001), siblings (symptom: B = −3.07, p-value < 0.001; disability: B = −2.52, p-value < 0.001), and healthy controls (symptom: B = −1.50, p-value < 0.001; disability: B = −1.31, p-value < 0.001). The results remained the same after adjusting for PRS-SCZ. The degree of associations of ES-SCZ with both symptom and disability dimensions were higher in unaffected siblings than in patients and controls. By analyzing an independent dataset (the Genetic Risk and Outcome of Psychosis study), we replicated the results observed in the patient group.
Our findings suggest that ES-SCZ shows promise for enhancing risk prediction and stratification in research practice. From a clinical perspective, ES-SCZ may aid in efforts of clinical characterization, operationalizing transdiagnostic clinical staging models, and personalizing clinical management.
The aim of the current study was to explore the changing interrelationships among clinical variables through the stages of schizophrenia in order to assemble a comprehensive and meaningful disease model.
Twenty-nine centers from 25 countries participated and included 2358 patients aged 37.21 ± 11.87 years with schizophrenia. Multiple linear regression analysis and visual inspection of plots were performed.
The results suggest that with progression stages, there are changing correlations among Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale factors at each stage and each factor correlates with all the others in that particular stage, in which this factor is dominant. This internal structure further supports the validity of an already proposed four stages model, with positive symptoms dominating the first stage, excitement/hostility the second, depression the third, and neurocognitive decline the last stage.
The current study investigated the mental organization and functioning in patients with schizophrenia in relation to different stages of illness progression. It revealed two distinct “cores” of schizophrenia, the “Positive” and the “Negative,” while neurocognitive decline escalates during the later stages. Future research should focus on the therapeutic implications of such a model. Stopping the progress of the illness could demand to stop the succession of stages. This could be achieved not only by both halting the triggering effect of positive and negative symptoms, but also by stopping the sensitization effect on the neural pathways responsible for the development of hostility, excitement, anxiety, and depression as well as the deleterious effect on neural networks responsible for neurocognition.
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