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Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSDs), although conceptualized as separate entities, may share some clinical and neurobiological features. ASD symptoms may have a relevant role in determining a more severe clinical presentation of schizophrenic disorder but their relationships with cognitive aspects and functional outcomes of the disease remain to be addressed in large samples of individuals.
To investigate the clinical, cognitive, and functional correlates of ASD symptoms in a large sample of people diagnosed with schizophrenia.
The severity of ASD symptoms was measured with the PANSS Autism Severity Scale (PAUSS) in 921 individuals recruited for the Italian Network for Research on Psychoses multicenter study. Based on the PAUSS scores, three groups of subjects were compared on a wide array of cognitive and functional measures.
Subjects with more severe ASD symptoms showed a poorer performance in the processing speed (p = 0.010), attention (p = 0.011), verbal memory (p = 0.035), and social cognition (p = 0.001) domains, and an overall lower global cognitive composite score (p = 0.010). Subjects with more severe ASD symptoms also showed poorer functional capacity (p = 0.004), real-world interpersonal relationships (p < 0.001), and participation in community-living activities (p < 0.001).
These findings strengthen the notion that ASD symptoms may have a relevant impact on different aspects of the disease, crucial to the life of people with schizophrenia. Prominent ASD symptoms may characterize a specific subpopulation of individuals with SSD.
Little is known about the post-acute effects of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) in patients with major depression. The present study focused on the 6-month follow-up of a sample of patients with major depression, after the completion of an acute 4 weeks rTMS trial, with the aim of evaluating response (in terms of sustained and late response) and relapse rates.
Following the completion of an acute trial of rTMS (T0-T4), 31 drug-resistant depressed patients (bipolar or unipolar) entered a naturalistic follow-up period of 6 months, with three timepoints (T5, T6, and T7) during which they were assessed with the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale and the Young Mania Rating Scale.
Results showed that in the 6 months following an acute transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) trial, a higher rate of late responders was observed among previously acute TMS nonresponders (63.64%, 7 out of 11) compared to the rate of relapse among those who had acutely responded to TMS (10%, 2 out of 20). In addition, an overall high rate of maintained response (90%) was observed.
Present findings seem to support the possibility of obtaining a clinical response also after the end of an acute TMS trial in patients with major depression. The concomitant low rate of relapse observed at the end of follow-up along with a high rate of maintained response provides further support to the post-acute efficacy of TMS. Nonetheless, further controlled studies, with larger samples and longer follow-up observation, are needed to confirm the reported results.
Greater levels of insight may be linked with depressive symptoms among patients with schizophrenia, however, it would be useful to characterize this association at symptom-level, in order to inform research on interventions.
Data on depressive symptoms (Calgary Depression Scale for Schizophrenia) and insight (G12 item from the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale) were obtained from 921 community-dwelling, clinically-stable individuals with a DSM-IV diagnosis of schizophrenia, recruited in a nationwide multicenter study. Network analysis was used to explore the most relevant connections between insight and depressive symptoms, including potential confounders in the model (neurocognitive and social-cognitive functioning, positive, negative and disorganization symptoms, extrapyramidal symptoms, hostility, internalized stigma, and perceived discrimination). Bayesian network analysis was used to estimate a directed acyclic graph (DAG) while investigating the most likely direction of the putative causal association between insight and depression.
After adjusting for confounders, better levels of insight were associated with greater self-depreciation, pathological guilt, morning depression and suicidal ideation. No difference in global network structure was detected for socioeconomic status, service engagement or illness severity. The DAG confirmed the presence of an association between greater insight and self-depreciation, suggesting the more probable causal direction was from insight to depressive symptoms.
In schizophrenia, better levels of insight may cause self-depreciation and, possibly, other depressive symptoms. Person-centered and narrative psychotherapeutic approaches may be particularly fit to improve patient insight without dampening self-esteem.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a prevalent, disabling, and comorbid condition that is frequently under-recognized and poorly treated. OCD phenotypes may differ in terms of clinical presentation and severity. However, few studies have investigated whether clinical phenotypes differ in terms of latency to treatment (ie, duration of untreated illness[DUI]), duration, and severity of illness. The present study was aimed to quantify the aforementioned variables in a sample of OCD patients.
One hundred fourteen outpatients with a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) diagnosis of OCD were recruited, and their main clinical features were collected. Severity of illness was assessed through the Yale–Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS), and the main phenotypes were identified through the Y-BOCS Symptom Checklist. A one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) test, followed by a Bonferroni post-hoc test, were performed to compare DUI, duration, and severity of illness across subgroups.
In the whole sample, the mean DUI exceeded 7 years (87.35±11.75 months), accounting for approximately half of the mean duration of illness (172.2±13.36 months). When subjects were categorized into 4 main clinical phenotypes, respectively, aggressive/checking (n=31), contamination/cleaning (n=37), symmetry/ordering (n=32), and multiple phenotypes (n=14), DUI, duration, and severity of illness resulted significantly higher in the aggressive/checking subgroup, compared to other subgroups (F=3.58, p<0.01; F=3.07, p<0.01; F=4.390, p<0.01).
In a sample of OCD patients, along with a mean latency to treatment of approximately 7 years, regardless of the phenotype, patients had spent half of their duration of illness (DI) without being treated. DUI, duration, and severity of illness resulted significantly higher in the aggressive/checking subgroup.
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