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There are high rates of obesity and low self-esteem in patients with psychosis. The occurrence of negative voice content directly about appearance is therefore plausible. Derogatory comments about appearance are likely to be distressing, increase depression and contribute to social withdrawal.
To systematically assess the occurrence of voice content regarding appearance and identify correlates.
Sixty patients experiencing verbal auditory hallucinations at least once a week in the context of non-affective psychosis completed a measure assessing positive and negative voice content about appearance. They also completed assessments about body image, self-esteem, psychiatric symptoms and well-being.
Fifty-five (91.7%) participants reported hearing voices comment on their appearance. A total of 54 (90%) patients reported negative voice content about their appearance with 30 (50%) patients experienced negative appearance comments on a daily basis. The most common negative comment was ‘the voices tell me that I am ugly’ (n = 48, 80%). There were 39 (65%) patients who reported positive voice content on appearance. The most frequent positive comment was ‘I look as nice as other people’ (n = 26, 43.3%). Negative voice content about appearance was associated with body image concerns, paranoia, voice hearing severity, depression, worry, negative self-beliefs and safety-seeking behaviours. Positive appearance voice content was associated with greater body esteem and well-being and lower levels of depression and insomnia.
Voice content about appearance is very common for patients seen in clinical services. Negative voice content may reflect – and subsequently reinforce – negative beliefs about one's appearance, low self-esteem, worry and paranoia.
The period before the formation of a persecutory delusion may provide causal insights. Patient accounts are invaluable in informing this understanding.
To inform the understanding of delusion formation, we asked patients about the occurrence of potential causal factors – identified from a cognitive model – before delusion onset.
A total of 100 patients with persecutory delusions completed a checklist about their subjective experiences in the weeks before belief onset. The checklist included items concerning worry, images, low self-esteem, poor sleep, mood dysregulation, dissociation, manic-type symptoms, aberrant salience, hallucinations, substance use and stressors. Time to reach certainty in the delusion was also assessed.
Most commonly it took patients several months to reach delusion certainty (n = 30), although other patients took a few weeks (n = 24), years (n = 21), knew instantly (n = 17) or took a few days (n = 6). The most frequent experiences occurring before delusion onset were: low self-confidence (n = 84); excessive worry (n = 80); not feeling like normal self (n = 77); difficulties concentrating (n = 77); going over problems again and again (n = 75); being very negative about the self (n = 75); images of bad things happening (n = 75); and sleep problems (n = 75). The average number of experiences occurring was high (mean 23.5, s.d. = 8.7). The experiences clustered into six main types, with patients reporting an average of 5.4 (s.d. = 1.0) different types.
Patients report numerous different experiences in the period before full persecutory delusion onset that could be contributory causal factors, consistent with a complex multifactorial view of delusion occurrence. This study, however, relied on retrospective self-report and could not determine causality.
Complete and comprehensive surveillance of maternal mortality and maternal near miss should increase the consistency and accuracy of the data. Extremes of age, pre-existing medical conditions, language barriers, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status are recognized risk factors for maternal and obstetric complications. An important challenge to the identification of maternal near miss outcomes has historically been varying definitions between local, national, and international institutions. The majority of definitions may be classified as clinically based, organ system based, or management/intervention based. Organ-system dysfunction criteria are based on abnormalities detected by laboratory tests, such as platelet levels, and basic critical care monitoring. Complications from pre-existing medical conditions such as chronic heart disease are emerging as an important cause of maternal near miss, as improvements in medical care allow more women to live to reproductive age. Effective prevention policies are necessary to influence the long-term outcomes associated with maternal near miss.