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Assessment of risks of illnesses has been an important part of medicine for decades. We now have hundreds of ‘risk calculators’ for illnesses, including brain disorders, and these calculators are continually improving as more diverse measures are collected on larger samples.
We first replicated an existing psychosis risk calculator and then used our own sample to develop a similar calculator for use in recruiting ‘psychosis risk’ enriched community samples. We assessed 632 participants age 8–21 (52% female; 48% Black) from a community sample with longitudinal data on neurocognitive, clinical, medical, and environmental variables. We used this information to predict psychosis spectrum (PS) status in the future. We selected variables based on lasso, random forest, and statistical inference relief; and predicted future PS using ridge regression, random forest, and support vector machines.
Cross-validated prediction diagnostics were obtained by building and testing models in randomly selected sub-samples of the data, resulting in a distribution of the diagnostics; we report the mean. The strongest predictors of later PS status were the Children's Global Assessment Scale; delusions of predicting the future or having one's thoughts/actions controlled; and the percent married in one's neighborhood. Random forest followed by ridge regression was most accurate, with a cross-validated area under the curve (AUC) of 0.67. Adjustment of the model including only six variables reached an AUC of 0.70.
Results support the potential application of risk calculators for screening and identification of at-risk community youth in prospective investigations of developmental trajectories of the PS.
The mental health of third-level students is of major societal concern with the gap between the demand for services and supports offered at crisis level. In Ireland, similar to elsewhere, colleges have responded to this need in vastly differing ways, with student counselling services available to all institutions, and student health departments and sessional psychiatry in some of the larger institutions, with none operating as a single multidisciplinary service. There is an increasing recognition for a more systematised approach, with the establishment of International Networks, Charters and Frameworks. These advocate for a whole institutional approach to student mental health, in addition to the development of an integrated system of supports with effective pathways to appropriate care. This paper, by members of the Youth and Student Special Interest Group of the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland, contextualises student mental health currently and describes future directions for this emerging field. It is a call to action to develop a structure that supports the needs of students with mental health problems across the full range of the spectrum from mild to severe.
There is a high rate of psychiatric comorbidity in patients with epilepsy. However, the impact of surgical treatment of refractory epilepsy on psychopathology remains under investigation. We aimed to examine the impact of epilepsy surgery on psychopathology and quality of life at 1-year post-surgery in a population of patients with epilepsy refractory to medication.
This study initially assessed 48 patients with refractory epilepsy using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I Disorders (SCID-I), the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) and the Quality of Life in Epilepsy Inventory 89 (QOLIE-89) on admission to an Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) as part of their pre-surgical assessment. These patients were again assessed using the SCID-I, QOLIE-89 and HADS at 1-year follow-up post-surgery.
There was a significant reduction in psychopathology, particularly psychosis, following surgery at 1-year follow-up (p < 0.021). There were no new cases of de novo psychosis and surgery was also associated with a significant improvement in the quality of life scores (p < 0.001).
This study demonstrates the impact of epilepsy surgery on psychopathology and quality of life in a patient population with refractory surgery. The presence of a psychiatric illness should not be a barrier to access surgical treatment.
Abnormal body mass index (BMI) has been associated with development of psychopathology. This association in children is well documented, for both overweight and underweight children. However, the association between change in BMI and the development of psychopathology has been less investigated.
To investigate the association between change in BMI between childhood and adolescence and psychopathology in adolescence.
Data from the Growing Up in Ireland cohort were used. We investigated the ’98 cohort (also known as the child cohort) at age 9/13. BMI, defined using internationally recognised definitions as underweight, healthy or overweight, was used as the exposure, and abnormal Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire scores were used as the outcome. Logistic regression was undertaken for the analysis. All analyses were adjusted for confounders.
A change to overweight from healthy BMI was significantly associated with increased risk of psychopathology (adjusted OR 1.66; 95% CI 1.19–2.32). Both change from underweight to healthy (adjusted OR 0.12; 95% CI 0.03–0.43) or from overweight to healthy (adjusted OR 0.47; 95% CI 0.79–0.8) was associated with a significantly reduced risk of developing psychopathology.
As a child’s BMI returns to within the healthy range, their risk of adolescent psychopathology is reduced. Interventions to restore healthy BMI, in both underweight and overweight, children may reduce their risk of adolescent psychopathology.
Often referred to as psychotic experiences, unusual perceptual experiences, thoughts and beliefs (UPTBs) are not uncommon in youth populations. Phenomenological studies of these experiences are lacking. This study aimed to (1) describe the phenomenological characteristics of UPTBs in a sample of young adolescents and (2) explore how young people made sense of those experiences.
Participants were 53 young people aged 11–13 years from a population-based study of mental health. All met criteria for UPTBs following clinical interviews as part of the study. Documentary data on UPTBs in the form of transcribed notes, recorded during clinical interviews, were analysed using content analysis. Data on UPTBs were coded, organised into categorical themes and quantified using descriptive statistics. Qualitative themes on how participants made sense of their experiences were identified.
Participants reported UPTBs across four domains: auditory verbal, auditory non-verbal, non-auditory perceptual experiences and unusual thoughts and beliefs. UPTBs were phenomenologically rich and diverse. Young people sought to make sense of their experiences in multiple ways: normalising them, externalising them by attributing them to paranormal entities and distancing them from psychiatric explanations. Uncertainty about the source of UPTBs was identified as a superordinate theme.
Findings from this study offer new insights into the phenomenological qualities and characteristics of UPTBs in young adolescents. They also reveal that early adolescents may not make sense of their experiences within a psychiatric framework. These findings highlight the need to develop a more phenomenologically sensitive and nuanced approach to studying UPTBs in young people.
Evidence suggests that early trauma may have a negative effect on cognitive functioning in individuals with psychosis, yet the relationship between childhood trauma and cognition among those at clinical high risk (CHR) for psychosis remains unexplored. Our sample consisted of 626 CHR children and 279 healthy controls who were recruited as part of the North American Prodrome Longitudinal Study 2. Childhood trauma up to the age of 16 (psychological, physical, and sexual abuse, emotional neglect, and bullying) was assessed by using the Childhood Trauma and Abuse Scale. Multiple domains of cognition were measured at baseline and at the time of psychosis conversion, using standardized assessments. In the CHR group, there was a trend for better performance in individuals who reported a history of multiple types of childhood trauma compared with those with no/one type of trauma (Cohen d = 0.16). A history of multiple trauma types was not associated with greater cognitive change in CHR converters over time. Our findings tentatively suggest there may be different mechanisms that lead to CHR states. Individuals who are at clinical high risk who have experienced multiple types of childhood trauma may have more typically developing premorbid cognitive functioning than those who reported minimal trauma do. Further research is needed to unravel the complexity of factors underlying the development of at-risk states.
To identify and synthesise the literature on the cost of mental disorders.
Systematic literature searches were conducted in the databases PubMed, EMBASE, Web of Science, EconLit, NHS York Database and PsychInfo using key terms for cost and mental disorders. Searches were restricted to January 1980–May 2019. The inclusion criteria were: (1) cost-of-illness studies or cost-analyses; (2) diagnosis of at least one mental disorder; (3) study population based on the general population; (4) outcome in monetary units. The systematic review was preregistered on PROSPERO (ID: CRD42019127783).
In total, 13 579 potential titles and abstracts were screened and 439 full-text articles were evaluated by two independent reviewers. Of these, 112 articles were included from the systematic searches and 31 additional articles from snowball searching, resulting in 143 included articles. Data were available from 48 countries and categorised according to nine mental disorder groups. The quality of the studies varied widely and there was a lack of studies from low- and middle-income countries and for certain types of mental disorders (e.g. intellectual disabilities and eating disorders). Our study showed that certain groups of mental disorders are more costly than others and that these rankings are relatively stable between countries. An interactive data visualisation site can be found here: https://nbepi.com/econ.
This is the first study to provide a comprehensive overview of the cost of mental disorders worldwide.
Migrant youths endure many challenges. Such challenges can be stressful and lead to psychological difficulties. We investigated the relationship between migration, psychopathology and stressful events in children and adolescents. We hypothesised that migrant youths would show higher levels of psychopathology and more stressful life events than non-migrant youths.
Using the Child cohort (Cohort ‘98) of the ‘Growing up in Ireland’ study we investigated psychopathology, as measured by the Strengths and Difficulties questionnaire (SDQ) at age 9 and 13 and stressful life events in migrant and non-migrant youths.
There was no significant difference between the proportion of migrant and non-migrant youths reporting psychopathology in childhood (p>0.05) or adolescence (p>0.05). Analysis of the SDQ subscales revealed that a significantly greater proportion of migrant youths had hyperactivity problems in childhood (p = 0.04) but a greater proportion of non-migrant youths had emotional problems in early adolescence (p = 0.04). We found that migrant youths experienced significantly more stressful life events than their non-migrant counterparts (p<0.01), however, once ‘Moving house/country‘ was removed as a stressor, there was no difference between the groups (p>0.27).
Contrary to our hypothesis, we observed that there were few differences between migrant and non-migrant youths in the levels of psychopathology. Migrant youths experienced a greater number of stressful life events, however, this was attributable to stressors relating to moving. An increased understanding of the factors promoting resilience, as demonstrated by the migrant youths, could aid health professionals and policy makers to effectively tailor interventions for mental health promotion.
Acute rheumatic fever (ARF), an auto-immune response to a group A Streptococcus infection and precursor to rheumatic heart disease (RHD), remains endemic in many socio-economically disadvantaged settings. A Global Resolution on ARF and RHD was recently adopted at the 71st World Health Assembly where governments committed to improving efforts to prevent and control ARF and RHD. To inform these efforts, the objectives of this study were to examine associations between childhood ARF in the UK between 1958 and 1969 and a range of environmental and social factors. Of 17 416 children from the nationally representative birth cohort of the National Child Development Study, ARF was reported in 23 children during early childhood (between birth and the 7-year follow-up) and in 29 additional children during middle childhood (between the 7- and 11-year follow-ups). Risk factors associated with ARF in both early and middle childhood were: a large family size; attendance at a private nursery or class; a history of nephritis, kidney or urinary tract infections; and a history of throat or ear infections. Risk factors for ARF in early childhood alone were families with fathers in a professional or semi-professional occupation and families who moved out of their local neighbourhood. Risk factors in late childhood alone included overcrowding and free school meals. These data suggest that prevention strategies in ARF endemic settings may be enhanced by targeting, for example, new members entering a community and children in environments of close contact, such as a nursery or shared bedrooms.
Hill (Twin Research and Human Genetics, Vol. 21, 2018, 84–88) presented a critique of our recently published paper in Cell Reports entitled ‘Large-Scale Cognitive GWAS Meta-Analysis Reveals Tissue-Specific Neural Expression and Potential Nootropic Drug Targets’ (Lam et al., Cell Reports, Vol. 21, 2017, 2597–2613). Specifically, Hill offered several interrelated comments suggesting potential problems with our use of a new analytic method called Multi-Trait Analysis of GWAS (MTAG) (Turley et al., Nature Genetics, Vol. 50, 2018, 229–237). In this brief article, we respond to each of these concerns. Using empirical data, we conclude that our MTAG results do not suffer from ‘inflation in the FDR [false discovery rate]’, as suggested by Hill (Twin Research and Human Genetics, Vol. 21, 2018, 84–88), and are not ‘more relevant to the genetic contributions to education than they are to the genetic contributions to intelligence’.
Our understanding of the complex relationship between schizophrenia symptomatology and etiological factors can be improved by studying brain-based correlates of schizophrenia. Research showed that impairments in value processing and executive functioning, which have been associated with prefrontal brain areas [particularly the medial orbitofrontal cortex (MOFC)], are linked to negative symptoms. Here we tested the hypothesis that MOFC thickness is associated with negative symptom severity.
This study included 1985 individuals with schizophrenia from 17 research groups around the world contributing to the ENIGMA Schizophrenia Working Group. Cortical thickness values were obtained from T1-weighted structural brain scans using FreeSurfer. A meta-analysis across sites was conducted over effect sizes from a model predicting cortical thickness by negative symptom score (harmonized Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms or Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale scores).
Meta-analytical results showed that left, but not right, MOFC thickness was significantly associated with negative symptom severity (βstd = −0.075; p = 0.019) after accounting for age, gender, and site. This effect remained significant (p = 0.036) in a model including overall illness severity. Covarying for duration of illness, age of onset, antipsychotic medication or handedness weakened the association of negative symptoms with left MOFC thickness. As part of a secondary analysis including 10 other prefrontal regions further associations in the left lateral orbitofrontal gyrus and pars opercularis emerged.
Using an unusually large cohort and a meta-analytical approach, our findings point towards a link between prefrontal thinning and negative symptom severity in schizophrenia. This finding provides further insight into the relationship between structural brain abnormalities and negative symptoms in schizophrenia.
Although repeatedly associated with white matter microstructural alterations, bipolar disorder (BD) has been relatively unexplored using complex network analysis. This method combines structural and diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to model the brain as a network and evaluate its topological properties. A group of highly interconnected high-density structures, termed the ‘rich-club’, represents an important network for integration of brain functioning. This study aimed to assess structural and rich-club connectivity properties in BD through graph theory analyses.
We obtained structural and diffusion MRI scans from 42 euthymic patients with BD type I and 43 age- and gender-matched healthy volunteers. Weighted fractional anisotropy connections mapped between cortical and subcortical structures defined the neuroanatomical networks. Next, we examined between-group differences in features of graph properties and sub-networks.
Patients exhibited significantly reduced clustering coefficient and global efficiency, compared with controls globally and regionally in frontal and occipital regions. Additionally, patients displayed weaker sub-network connectivity in distributed regions. Rich-club analysis revealed subtly reduced density in patients, which did not withstand multiple comparison correction. However, hub identification in most participants indicated differentially affected rich-club membership in the BD group, with two hubs absent when compared with controls, namely the superior frontal gyrus and thalamus.
This graph theory analysis presents a thorough investigation of topological features of connectivity in euthymic BD. Abnormalities of global and local measures and network components provide further neuroanatomically specific evidence for distributed dysconnectivity as a trait feature of BD.
Our knowledge of the universe comes from recording the photon and particle fluxes incident on the Earth from space. We thus require sensitive measurement across the entire energy spectrum, using large telescopes with efficient instrumentation located on superb sites. Technological advances and engineering constraints are nearing the point where we are recording as many photons arriving at a site as is possible. Major advances in the future will come from improving the quality of the site. The ultimate site is, of course, beyond the Earth’s atmosphere, such as on the Moon, but economic limitations prevent our exploiting this avenue to the degree that the scientific community desires. Here we describe an alternative, which offers many of the advantages of space for a fraction of the cost: the Antarctic Plateau.
We present the results of a multi-wavelength investigation of the dwarf galaxy populations in three interacting galaxy groups: NGC 871/6/7, NGC 3166/9, NGC 4725/47. Using degree-scale Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope Hi mosaics and deep optical photometry from the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, we measured the Hi and stellar properties of the gas-rich low-mass group members to classify each one as a classical dwarf galaxy, a short-lived tidal knot or a tidal dwarf galaxy (TDG). Our observations detect several dwarf irregulars and various tidal knots. We identify four potentially long-lived tidal objects in the three groups, implying that TDGs are not readily produced. The tidal objects examined in this small survey also appear to have a wider variety of properties than TDGs formed in current simulations.
Impulsivity is associated with bipolar disorder as a clinical feature during and between manic episodes and is considered a potential endophenotype for the disorder. Schizophrenia and major depressive disorder share substantial genetic overlap with bipolar disorder, and these two disorders have also been associated with elevations in impulsivity. However, little is known about the degree of overlap among these disorders in discrete subfacets of impulsivity and whether any overlap is purely phenotypic or due to shared genetic diathesis.
We focused on five subfacets of impulsivity: self-reported attentional, motor, and non-planning impulsivity, self-reported sensation seeking, and a behavioral measure of motor inhibition (stop signal reaction time; SSRT). We examined these facets within and across disorder proband and co-twin groups, modeled heritability, and tested for endophenotypic patterning in a sample of twin pairs recruited from the Swedish Twin Registry (N = 420).
We found evidence of moderate to high levels of heritability for all five subfacets. All three proband groups and their unaffected co-twins showed elevations on attentional, motor, and non-planning impulsivity. Schizophrenia probands (but not their co-twins) showed significantly lower sensation seeking, and schizophrenia and bipolar disorder probands (but not in their co-twins) had significantly longer SSRTs, compared with healthy controls and the other groups.
Attentional, motor, and non-planning impulsivity emerged as potential shared endophenotypes for the three disorders, whereas sensation seeking and SSRT were associated with phenotypic affection but not genetic loading for these disorders.
A series of research reports has indicated that the use of substances such as cannabis, alcohol and tobacco are higher in youth at clinical high risk (CHR) of developing psychosis than in controls. Little is known about the longitudinal trajectory of substance use, and findings on the relationship between substance use and later transition to psychosis in CHR individuals are mixed.
At baseline and 6- and 12-month follow-ups, 735 CHR and 278 control participants completed the Alcohol and Drug Use Scale and a cannabis use questionnaire. The longitudinal trajectory of substance use was evaluated with linear mixed models.
CHR participants endorsed significantly higher cannabis and tobacco use severity, and lower alcohol use severity, at baseline and over a 1-year period compared with controls. CHR youth had higher lifetime prevalence and frequency of cannabis, and were significantly younger upon first use, and were more likely to use alone and during the day. Baseline substance use did not differentiate participants who later transitioned to psychosis (n = 90) from those who did not transition (n = 272). Controls had lower tobacco use than CHR participants with a prodromal progression clinical outcome and lower cannabis use than those with a psychotic clinical outcome at the 2-year assessment.
In CHR individuals cannabis and tobacco use is higher than in controls and this pattern persists across 1 year. Evaluation of clinical outcome may provide additional information on the longitudinal impact of substance use that cannot be detected through evaluation of transition/non-transition to psychosis alone.
Increasing rates of young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs) are a cause of concern both in Ireland and internationally, but little longitudinal research has examined the link between psychiatric disorder in young people and NEET status.
The Challenging Times (CT) Study is a longitudinal, population-based study of psychopathology among 212 young Irish people. Clinical interviews were performed at two time points: 12–15 years and 19–24 years.
NEET status in young adulthood was associated with a sevenfold increased risk of current suicidal ideation. This result was independent of prior adolescent mental disorder. NEET young people had a fourfold increased odds of being diagnosed with a mental disorder in childhood or early adolescence compared with their economically active peers. NEET young people were at an almost threefold increased risk of any mental health disorder a twofold increased risk of anxiety disorder and threefold increased odds of suicide attempts over their lifetime compared with economically active peers.
NEET young people are at increased risk for mental disorder and suicidal ideation. The association is bidirectional, as prior mental disorder in adolescence appeared to account for much of the association between NEET status and current mental health problems. However, economic inactivity conveys an increased risk for suicidal ideation over and above that due to prior disorder. Our findings provide a compelling economic and societal argument for early intervention and treatment of mental disorder and the importance of vocational interventions for reducing suicide risk in young adults.
There is a lack of epidemiological research on the mental health of young adults in Ireland.
To determine prevalence of psychiatric disorders in a cohort of young Irish adults.
The Challenging Times study was a landmark study of the prevalence of psychiatric disorders in adolescents in North Dublin, Ireland: 212 school children aged 12-15 years were recruited through schools and interviewed using the K-SADS semi-structured diagnostic instrument. This cohort was traced again at age 19-24 years (mean age 20.8 years) and interviewed using SCID I & II. Main outcome measures were current and lifetime Axis I and Axis II psychiatric disorders.
Follow-up rate was 80%. Using a weighted population prevalence analysis 19.8% of the cohort had a current mental disorder, 56.0% had a lifetime mental disorder of whom 28.4% had mood disorders, 27.1% had anxiety disorders, 22.7% had substance use disorders; 25.4% had lifetime multi-morbidity. Cluster A personality disorders were found in 2.3%. Lifetime prevalence of binge-drinking was 75.0%, cannabis use 65% and 17% of young adults had fulfilled criteria for an alcohol use disorder at sometime in their life. Lifetime prevalence of suicidal thoughts/behaviour was 21.1%.
Lifetime prevalence of psychiatric disorder and substance use were high in this sample of young Irish adults. Mental Health service provision for this age group is a priority. Larger studies of nationally representative samples are needed to inform service development.
This editorial discusses the application of a novel brain imaging analysis technique in the assessment of neuroanatomical dysconnectivity in psychotic illnesses. There has long been a clinical interest in psychosis as a disconnection syndrome. In recent years graph theory metrics have been applied to functional and structural imaging datasets to derive measures of brain connectivity, which represent the efficiency of brain networks. These metrics can be derived from structural neuroimaging datasets acquired using diffusion imaging whereby cortical structures are parcellated into nodes and white matter tracts represent edges connecting these nodes. Furthermore neuroanatomical measures of connectivity may be decoupled from measures of physiological connectivity as assessed using functional imaging, underpinning the need for multi-modal imaging approaches to probe brain networks. Studies to date have reported a number of structural brain connectivity abnormalities associated with schizophrenia that carry potential as illness biomarkers. Structural connectivity abnormalities have also been reported in well patients with bipolar disorder and in unaffected relatives of patients with schizophrenia. Such connectivity metrics may represent clinically relevant biomarkers in studies employing a longitudinal design of illness course in psychosis.
White matter (WM) abnormalities are proposed as potential endophenotypic markers of bipolar disorder (BD). In a diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) voxel-based analysis (VBA) study of families multiply affected with BD, we previously reported that widespread abnormalities of fractional anisotropy (FA) are associated with both BD and genetic liability for illness. In the present study, we further investigated the endophenotypic potential of WM abnormalities by applying DTI tractography to specifically investigate tracts implicated in the pathophysiology of BD.
Diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data were acquired from 19 patients with BD type I from multiply affected families, 21 of their unaffected first-degree relatives and 18 healthy volunteers. DTI tractography was used to identify the cingulum, uncinate fasciculus (UF), arcuate portion of the superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF), inferior longitudinal fasciculus (ILF), corpus callosum, and the anterior limb of the internal capsule (ALIC). Regression analyses were conducted to investigate the effect of participant group and genetic liability on FA and radial diffusivity (RD) in each tract.
We detected a significant effect of group on both FA and RD in the cingulum, SLF, callosal splenium and ILF driven by reduced FA and increased RD in patients compared to controls and relatives. Increasing genetic liability was associated with decreased FA and increased RD in the UF, and decreased FA in the SLF, among patients.
WM microstructural abnormalities in limbic, temporal and callosal pathways represent microstructural abnormalities associated with BD whereas alterations in the SLF and UF may represent potential markers of endophenotypic risk.