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Early trauma is linked to higher symptom levels in bipolar and psychotic disorders, but the translating mechanisms are not well understood. This study examines whether the relationship between early emotional abuse and depressive symptoms is mediated by metacognitive beliefs about thoughts being uncontrollable/dangerous, and whether this pathway extends to influence positive symptoms.
Patients (N = 261) with psychotic or bipolar disorders were assessed for early trauma experiences, metacognitive beliefs, and current depression/anxiety and positive symptoms. Mediation path analyses using ordinary least-squares regressions tested if the effect of early emotional abuse on depression/anxiety was mediated by metacognitive beliefs, and if the effect of early emotional abuse on positive symptoms was mediated by metacognitive beliefs and depression/anxiety.
Metacognitive beliefs about thoughts being uncontrollable/dangerous significantly mediated the relationship between early emotional abuse and depression/anxiety. Metacognitive beliefs and depression/anxiety significantly mediated the relationship between early emotional abuse and positive symptoms. The models explained a moderate amount of the variance in symptoms (R2 = 0.21–0.29).
Our results indicate that early emotional abuse is relevant to depression/anxiety and positive symptoms in bipolar and psychotic disorders, and suggest that metacognitive beliefs could play a role in an affective pathway to psychosis. Metacognitive beliefs could be relevant treatment targets with regards to depression/anxiety and positive symptoms in bipolar and psychotic disorders.
During the last decades we have seen a new focus on early treatment of psychosis. Several reviews have shown that duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) is correlated to better outcome. However, it is still unknown whether early treatment will lead to a better long-term outcome. This study reports the effects of reducing DUP on 5-year course and outcome.
During 1997–2000 a total of 281 consecutive patients aged >17 years with first episode non-affective psychosis were recruited, of which 192 participated in the 5-year follow-up. A comprehensive early detection (ED) programme with public information campaigns and low-threshold psychosis detection teams was established in one healthcare area (ED-area), but not in a comparable area (no-ED area). Both areas ran equivalent treatment programmes during the first 2 years and need-adapted treatment thereafter.
At the start of treatment, ED-patients had shorter DUP and less symptoms than no-ED-patients. There were no significant differences in treatment (psychotherapy and medication) for the 5 years. Mixed-effects modelling showed better scores for the ED group on the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale negative, depressive and cognitive factors and for global assessment of functioning for social functioning at 5-year follow-up. The ED group also had more contacts with friends. Regression analysis did not find that these differences could be explained by confounders.
Early treatment had positive effects on clinical and functional status at 5-year follow-up in first episode psychosis.
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