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Clinical high-risk (CHR) for psychosis is indicated by ultra-high risk (UHR) and basic symptom (BS) criteria; however, conversion rates are highest when both UHR and BS criteria are fulfilled (UHR&BS). While BSs are considered the most immediate expression of neurobiological aberrations underlying the development of psychosis, research on neurobiological correlates of BS is scarce.
We investigated gray matter volumes (GMV) of 20 regions of interest (ROI) previously associated with UHR criteria in 90 patients from the Bern early detection service: clinical controls (CC), first-episode psychosis (FEP), UHR, BS and UHR&BS. We expected lowest GMV in FEP and UHR&BS, and highest volume in CC with UHR and BS in-between.
Significantly, lower GMV was detected in FEP and UHR&BS patients relative to CC with no other significant between-group differences. When ROIs were analyzed separately, seven showed a significant group effect (FDR corrected), with five (inferior parietal, medial orbitofrontal, lateral occipital, middle temporal, precuneus) showing significantly lower GM volume in the FEP and/or UHR&BS groups than in the CC group (Bonferroni corrected). In the CHR group, only COGDIS scores correlated negatively with cortical volumes.
This is the first study to demonstrate that patients who fulfill both UHR and BS criteria – a population that has been associated with higher conversion rates – exhibit more severe GMV reductions relative to those who satisfy BS or UHR criteria alone. This result was mediated by the BS in the UHR&BS group, as only the severity of BS was linked to GMV reductions.
Transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation (tVNS) is a promising therapeutic option for major depressive disorder (MDD) in adults. Alternative third-line treatments for MDD in adolescents are scarce. Here we aimed to assess the effects of acute tVNS on emotion recognition in adolescents with MDD.
Adolescents (14–17 years) with MDD (n = 33) and non-depressed controls (n = 30) received tVNS or sham-stimulation in a cross-sectional, case–control, within-subject cross-randomized controlled trial, while performing different tasks assessing emotion recognition. Correct responses, response times, and errors of omission and commission on three different computerized emotion recognition tasks were assessed as main outcomes. Simultaneous recordings of electrocardiography and electro dermal activity, as well as sampling of saliva for the determination of α-amylase, were used to quantify the effects on autonomic nervous system function.
tVNS had no effect on the recognition of gradually or static expressed emotions but altered response inhibition on the emotional Go/NoGo-task. Specifically, tVNS increased the likelihood of omitting a response toward sad target-stimuli in adolescents with MDD, while decreasing errors (independent of the target emotion) in controls. Effects of acute tVNS on autonomic nervous system function were found in non-depressed controls only.
Acute tVNS alters the recognition of briefly presented facial expressions of negative valence in adolescents with MDD while generally increasing emotion recognition in controls. tVNS seems to specifically alter early visual processing of stimuli of negative emotional valence in MDD. These findings suggest a potential therapeutic benefit of tVNS in adolescent MDD that requires further evaluation within clinical trials.
Early life maltreatment (ELM), borderline personality disorder (BPD), and major depressive disorder (MDD) have been associated with empathy deficits in different domains. Lack of maternal empathy has also been related to child behavioral problems. As ELM, BPD, and MDD often co-occur, we aimed to identify dissociable effects on empathy due to these three factors. In addition, we aimed to investigate their indirect effects via empathy on child psychopathology.
We included 251 mothers with and without MDD (in remission), BPD and ELM and their children, aged 5–12. We used the Interpersonal Reactivity Index as a measure of empathy on four different dimensions (personal distress, empathic concern, perspective taking, and fantasy) and the Child Behavior Checklist as a measure of child psychopathology.
Having included all three factors (ELM, MDD, BPD) in one analysis, we found elevated personal distress in MDD and BPD, and lower levels of perspective-taking in BPD, but no effects from ELM on any empathy subscales. Furthermore, we found indirect effects from maternal BPD and MDD on child psychopathology, via maternal personal distress.
The present study demonstrated the dissociable effects of maternal ELM, MDD, and BPD on empathy. Elevated personal distress in mothers with BPD and MDD may lead to higher levels of child psychopathology.
Migration has been reported to be associated with higher prevalence of mental disorders and suicidal behaviour.
To examine the prevalence of emotional and behavioural difficulties, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts among migrant adolescents and their non-migrant peers.
A school-based survey was completed by 11 057 European adolescents as part of the Saving and Empowering Young Lives in Europe (SEYLE) study.
A previous suicide attempt was reported by 386 (3.6%) adolescents. Compared with non-migrants, first-generation migrants had an elevated prevalence of suicide attempts (odds ratio (OR) 2.08; 95% CI 1.32–3.26; P=0.001 for European migrants and OR 1.86; 95% CI 1.06–3.27; P=0.031 for non-European migrants) and significantly higher levels of peer difficulties. Highest levels of conduct and hyperactivity problems were found among migrants of non-European origin.
Appropriate mental health services and school-based supports are required to meet the complex needs of migrant adolescents.
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