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Exposure to adversities in early childhood is associated with psychotic experiences and disorders in adulthood. We aimed to examine whether early childhood adversities are associated with middle childhood psychotic experiences in a cohort of children at familial high risk of schizophrenia (FHR-SZ), bipolar disorder (FHR-BP) and population-based controls (controls).
Four hundred and forty-six children from The Danish High Risk and Resilience Study – VIA7 and VIA11 participated in this study (FHR-SZ = 170; FHR-BP = 103; controls = 173). Exposure to early childhood adversities and psychotic experiences were assessed using face-to-face interviews. Having childhood adversities assessed at baseline (age 7) was used as predictor. Psychotic experiences assessed at follow-up (age 11) were used as outcome.
Across the sample, exposure to early childhood interpersonal adversities was associated with an increased risk for any middle childhood psychotic experiences and subclinical delusions when adjusting for relevant confounders (OR 1.8, 95% CI 1.0–3.1, p = 0.05; OR 3.0, 95% CI 1.6–5.6, p < 0.001). There was no significant dose–response effect of exposure to multiple types of childhood adversities on any psychotic experiences. There were no interaction effects between early childhood adversities and FHR on middle childhood psychotic experiences. Exploratory analyses revealed that experiencing domestic violence in early childhood was associated with any middle childhood psychotic experiences (OR 2.8, 95% CI 1.5–5.1, p = 0.001).
Exposure to interpersonal adversities during early childhood is associated with an increased risk for middle childhood psychotic experiences including specifically subclinical delusions. Future studies should examine associations between exposure to childhood adversities and conversion to psychosis within this cohort.
Psychiatric disorders are highly polygenic and show patterns of partner resemblance. Partner resemblance has direct population-level genetic implications if it is caused by assortative mating, but not if it is caused by convergence or social homogamy. Using genetics may help distinguish these different mechanisms. Here, we investigated whether partner resemblance for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder is influenced by assortative mating using polygenic risk scores (PRSs).
PRSs from The Danish High-Risk and Resilience Study—VIA 7 were compared between parents in three subsamples: population-based control parent pairs (N=198), parent pairs where at least one parent had schizophrenia (N=193), and parent pairs where at least one parent had bipolar disorder (N=115).
The PRS for schizophrenia was predictive of schizophrenia in the full sample and showed a significant correlation between parent pairs (r=0.121, p=0.0440), indicative of assortative mating. The PRS for bipolar disorder was also correlated between parent pairs (r=0.162, p=0.0067), but it was not predictive of bipolar disorder in the full sample, limiting the interpretation.
Our study provides genetic evidence for assortative mating for schizophrenia, with important implications for our understanding of the genetics of schizophrenia.
Childbirth may be a traumatic experience and vulnerability to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may increase the risk of postpartum depression (PPD). We investigated whether genetic vulnerability to PTSD as measured by polygenic score (PGS) increases the risk of PPD and whether a predisposition to PTSD in PPD cases exceeds that of major depressive disorder (MDD) outside the postpartum period.
This case-control study included participants from the iPSYCH2015, a case-cohort of all singletons born in Denmark between 1981 and 2008. Restricting to women born between 1981 and 1997 and excluding women with a first diagnosis other than depression (N = 22 613), 333 were identified with PPD. For each PPD case, 999 representing the background population and 993 with MDD outside the postpartum were matched by calendar year at birth, cohort selection, and age. PTSD PGS was calculated from summary statistics from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium with LDpred2-auto. Odds ratios (ORs) were estimated using conditional logistic regression adjusted for parental psychiatric history and country of origin, PGS for MDD and age at first birth, and the first 10 principal components.
The PTSD PGS was significantly associated with PPD (OR 1.42, 95% CI 1.20–1.68 per standard deviation increase in PTSD PGS) compared to healthy female controls. Genetic PTSD vulnerability in PPD cases did not exceed that of matched female depression cases outside the postpartum period (OR 1.10, 95% CI 0.94–1.30 per standard deviation increase).
Genetic vulnerability to PTSD increased the risk of PPD but did not differ between PPD cases and women with depression at other times.
This study investigates indicators of disorganized caregiving among caregivers of children who have a familial predisposition of schizophrenia spectrum psychosis (SZ) or bipolar disorder (BP), and whether indicators of disorganized caregiving are associated with the caregivers’ and children’s level of functioning as well as the children’s internalizing and externalizing behavior problems. Indicators of disorganized caregiving were assessed with the Caregiving Helplessness Questionnaire (CHQ). Level of functioning was evaluated using the Children’s Global Assessment Scale and the Personal and Social Performance Scale, while dimensional psychopathology were measured with the Child Behavior Checklist. 185 caregivers belonging to a SZ combined group (i.e., SZ-I + SZ co-caregiver), 110 caregivers to a BP combined group (i.e., BP-I + BP co-caregiver), and 184 caregivers to a population-based control group provided data on CHQ. Having a history of SZ or BP or being a co-caregiver to a parent with SZ or BP was associated with higher levels of experiences of helplessness and fear. Higher scores on helplessness were associated with lower level of functioning among caregivers and children and with children having externalizing/internalizing behavior problems. These results emphasize the need for interventions addressing indicators of disorganized caregiving in families with SZ or BP.
Sex differences in brain structure and neurodevelopment occur in non-clinical populations. We investigated whether sex had a similar effect on developmental domains amongst boys and girls with a familial risk of schizophrenia (FHR-SZ), bipolar disorder (FHR-BP), and controls.
Through Danish registries, we identified 522 7-year-old children (242 girls) with FHR-SZ, FHR-BP, and controls. We assessed their performance within the domains of neurocognition, motor function, language, social cognition, social behavior, psychopathology, and home environment.
FHR-SZ boys compared with FHR-SZ girls had a higher proportion of disruptive behavior and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and exhibited lower performance in manual dexterity, balance, and emotion recognition. No sex differences were found between boys and girls within FHR-BP group. Compared with controls, both FHR-SZ boys and FHR-SZ girls showed impaired processing speed and working memory, had lower levels of global functioning, and were more likely to live in an inadequate home environment. Compared with control boys, FHR-SZ boys showed impaired manual dexterity, social behavior, and social responsiveness, and had a higher proportion of ADHD and disruptive behavior disorder diagnoses. Stress and adjustment disorders were more common in FHR-BP boys compared with control boys. We found no differences between FHR-BP girls and control girls.
Impairment within neurodevelopmental domains associated within FHR-SZ boys v. FHR-SZ girls was most evident among boys, whereas no sex differences were found within the FHR-BP group (FHR-BP boys v. FHR-BP girls). FHR-SZ boys exhibited the highest proportion of early developmental impairments.
The home environment has a major impact on child development. Parental severe mental illness can pose a challenge to the home environment of a child. We aimed to examine the home environment of children of parents with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder and controls longitudinally through at-home assessments.
Assessments were conducted within The Danish High Risk and Resilience Study, a nationwide multi-center cohort study of children of parents with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder and population-based controls. The level of at-home stimulation and support was measured at age 7 (N = 508 children) and age 11 (N = 430 children) with the semi-structured HOME Inventory. Results from the 11-year follow-up study were analyzed and compared with 7-year baseline results to examine change across groups.
At age 11, children of parents with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder had lower levels of stimulation and support than controls (mean (s.d.) = 46.16 (5.56), 46.87 (5.34) and 49.25 (4.37) respectively, p < 0.001). A higher proportion of children with parental schizophrenia or bipolar disorder lived in inadequate home environments at age 11, compared with controls (N (%) = 24 (15.0), 12 (12.2) and 6 (3.5) respectively, p < 0.003). The changes in home environment scores did not differ across groups from age 7 to age 11.
Assessed longitudinally from the children's age of 7 to 11, children of parents with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder had lower levels of stimulation and support in their homes than controls. Integrated support which can target practical, economic, social and health issues to improve the home environment is indicated.
Personality traits may predict antidepressant discontinuation and response. However, previous studies were rather small, only explored a few personality traits and did not include adverse drug effects nor the interdependency between antidepressant discontinuation patterns and response.
GENDEP included 589 patients with unipolar moderate-severe depression treated with escitalopram or nortriptyline for 12 weeks. Seven personality dimensions were measured using the self-reported 240-item Temperament and Character Inventory-Revised (TCI-R). We applied Cox proportional models to study discontinuation patterns, logistic and linear regression to investigate response and remission after 8 and 12 weeks, and mixed-effects linear models regarding time-varying treatment response and adverse drug reactions.
Low harm avoidance, low cooperativeness, high self-transcendence and high novelty seeking were associated with higher risks for antidepressant discontinuation, independent of depressed mood, adverse drug reactions, drug, sex and age. Regression analyses showed that higher novelty seeking and cooperativeness scores were associated with a greater likelihood of response and remission after 8 and 12 weeks, respectively, but we found no correlations with response in the mixed-effects models. Only high harm avoidance was associated with more self-reported adverse effects.
This study, representing the largest investigation between several personality traits and response to two different antidepressants, suggests that correlations between personality traits and antidepressant treatment response may be confounded by differential rates of discontinuation. Future trials on personality in the treatment of depression need to consider this interdependency and study whether interventions aiming at improving compliance for some personality types may improve response to antidepressants.
The cognitive control system matures gradually with age and shows age-related sex differences. To gain knowledge concerning error adaptation in familial high-risk groups, investigating error adaptation among the offspring of parents with severe mental disorders is important and may contribute to the understanding of cognitive functioning in at-risk individuals. We identified an observational cohort through Danish registries and measured error adaptation using an Eriksen flanker paradigm. We tested 497 7-year-old children with a familial high risk of schizophrenia (N = 192) or bipolar disorder (N = 116) for deficits in error adaptation compared with a control group (N = 189). We investigated whether error adaptation differed between high-risk groups compared with controls and sex differences in the adaptation to errors, irrespective of high-risk status. Overall, children exhibited post-error slowing (PES), but the slowing of responses did not translate to significant improvements in accuracy. No differences were detected between either high-risk group compared with the controls. Boys showed less PES and PES after incongruent trials than girls. Our results suggest that familial high risk of severe mental disorders does not influence error adaptation at this early stage of cognitive control development. Error adaptation behavior at age 7 years shows specific sex differences.
In this study, we examined the relationship between polygenic liability for depression and number of stressful life events (SLEs) as risk factors for early-onset depression treated in inpatient, outpatient or emergency room settings at psychiatric hospitals in Denmark.
Data were drawn from the iPSYCH2012 case-cohort sample, a population-based sample of individuals born in Denmark between 1981 and 2005. The sample included 18 532 individuals who were diagnosed with depression by a psychiatrist by age 31 years, and a comparison group of 20 184 individuals. Information on SLEs was obtained from nationwide registers and operationalized as a time-varying count variable. Hazard ratios and cumulative incidence rates were estimated using Cox regressions.
Risk for depression increased by 35% with each standard deviation increase in polygenic liability (p < 0.0001), and 36% (p < 0.0001) with each additional SLE. There was a small interaction between polygenic liability and SLEs (β = −0.04, p = 0.0009). The probability of being diagnosed with depression in a hospital-based setting between ages 15 and 31 years ranged from 1.5% among males in the lowest quartile of polygenic liability with 0 events by age 15, to 18.8% among females in the highest quartile of polygenic liability with 4+ events by age 15.
These findings suggest that although there is minimal interaction between polygenic liability and SLEs as risk factors for hospital-treated depression, combining information on these two important risk factors could potentially be useful for identifying high-risk individuals.
Residential mobility during upbringing, and especially adolescence, is associated with multiple negative mental health outcomes. However, whether associations are confounded by unmeasured familial factors, including genetic liability, is unclear.
We used a population-based case–cohort study to assess whether polygenic risk scores (PRSs) for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression were associated with mobility from ages 10–14 years, and whether PRS and parental history of mental disorder together explained associations between mobility and each disorder.
Information on cases (n = 4207 schizophrenia, n = 1402 bipolar disorder, n = 18 215 major depression) and a random population sample (n = 17 582), born 1981–1997, was linked between Danish civil and psychiatric registries. Genome-wide data were obtained from the Danish Neonatal Screening Biobank and PRSs were calculated based on results of separate, large meta-analyses.
PRSs for schizophrenia and major depression were weakly associated with moving once (odds ratio 1.07, 95% CI 1.00–1.16; and odds ratio 1.10, 95% CI 1.04–1.17, respectively), but not twice or three or more times. Mobility was positively associated with each disorder, with more moves associated with greater risk. Adjustment for PRS produced slight reductions in the magnitude of associations. Adjustment for PRS and parental history of mental disorder together reduced estimates by 5–11%. In fully adjusted models mobility was associated with all three disorders; hazard ratios ranged from 1.33 (95% CI 1.08–1.62; one move and bipolar disorder) to 3.05 (95% CI 1.92–4.86; three or more moves and bipolar disorder).
Associations of mobility with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression do not appear to be attributable to genetic liability as measured here. Potential familial confounding of mobility associations may be predominantly environmental in nature.
Genomic sequencing plays an increasing role in genetic research, also in psychiatry. This raises challenges concerning the validity and type of the informed consent and the return of incidental findings. However, no solution currently exists on the best way to obtain the informed consent and deliver findings to research subjects.
This study aims to explore the attitudes among potential stakeholders in psychiatric genomic research toward the consenting procedure and the delivery of incidental findings.
We developed a cross-sectional web-based survey among five groups of stakeholders. A total of 2637 stakeholders responded: 241 persons with a mental disorder, 671 relatives, 1623 blood donors, 74 psychiatrists, and 28 clinical geneticists.
The stakeholders wanted active involvement as 92.7% preferred a specific consent and 85.1% wanted to receive information through a dynamic consent procedure. The majority of stakeholders preferred to receive genomic information related to serious or life-threatening health conditions through direct contact (69.5%) with a health professional, i.e. face-to-face consultation or telephone consultation (82.4%). Persons with mental disorders and relatives did not differ in their attitudes from the other stakeholder groups.
The findings illustrate that the stakeholders want to be more actively involved and consider consent as a reciprocal transaction between the involved subjects and the researchers in the project. The results highlight the importance of collaboration between researchers and clinical geneticists as the latter are trained, through their education and clinical experience, to return and explain genomic data to patients, relatives, and research subjects.
For patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) experiencing side-effects or non-response to their first antidepressant, little is known regarding the effect of switching between a tricyclic antidepressant (TCA) and a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).
To compare the switch between the TCA nortriptyline and the SSRI escitalopram.
Among 811 adults with MDD treated with nortriptyline or escitalopram for up to 12 weeks, 108 individuals switched from nortriptyline to escitalopram or vice versa because of side-effects or non-response (trial registration: EudraCT No.2004-001723-38 (https://eudract.ema.europa.eu/) and ISRCTN No.03693000 (http://www.controlled-trials.com)). Patients were followed for up to 26 weeks after switching and response was measured with the Montgomery–Åsberg Depression Rating scale (MADRS). We performed adjusted mixed-effects linear regression models with full information maximum likelihood estimation reporting β-coefficients with 95% CIs.
Switching antidepressants resulted in a significant decrease in MADRS scores. This was present for switchers from escitalopram to nortriptyline (n = 36, β = −0.38, 95% CI −0.51 to −0.25, P<0.001) and from nortriptyline to escitalopram (n = 72, β = −0.34, 95% CI −0.41 to −0.26, P<0.001). Both switching options resulted in significant improvement among individuals who switched because of non-response or side-effects. The results were supported by analyses on other rating scales and symptom dimensions.
These results suggest that switching from a TCA to an SSRI or vice versa after non-response or side-effects to the first antidepressant may be a viable approach to achieve response among patients with MDD.
Declarations of interest
K.J.A. holds an Alberta Centennial Addiction and Mental Health Research Chair, funded by the Government of Alberta. K.J.A. has been a member of various advisory boards, received consultancy fees and honoraria, and has received research grants from various companies including Johnson and Johnson Pharmaceuticals Research and Development and Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceuticals Limited. D.S. has served on advisory boards for, and received unrestricted grants from, Lundbeck and AstraZeneca. A.F. and P.M. have received honoraria for participating in expert panels for Lundbeck and GlaxoSmithKline.
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and anxiety disorders have been proposed as precursors of bipolar disorder, but their joint and relative roles in the development of bipolar disorder are unknown.
To test the prospective relationship of ADHD and anxiety with onset of bipolar disorder.
We examined the relationship between ADHD, anxiety disorders and bipolar disorder in a birth cohort of 2 409 236 individuals born in Denmark between 1955 and 1991. Individuals were followed from their sixteenth birthday or from January 1995 to their first clinical contact for bipolar disorder or until December 2012. We calculated incidence rates per 10 000 person-years and tested the effects of prior diagnoses on the risk of bipolar disorder in survival models.
Over 37 394 865 person-years follow-up, 9250 onsets of bipolar disorder occurred. The incidence rate of bipolar disorder was 2.17 (95% CI 2.12–2.19) in individuals with no prior diagnosis of ADHD or anxiety, 23.86 (95% CI 19.98–27.75) in individuals with a prior diagnosis of ADHD only, 26.05 (95% CI 24.47–27.62) in individuals with a prior diagnosis of anxiety only and 66.16 (95% CI 44.83–87.47) in those with prior diagnoses of both ADHD and anxiety. The combination of ADHD and anxiety increased the risk of bipolar disorder 30-fold (95% CI 21.66–41.40) compared with those with no prior ADHD or anxiety.
Early manifestations of both internalising and externalising psychopathology indicate liability to bipolar disorder. The combination of ADHD and anxiety is associated with a very high risk of bipolar disorder.
Depression and obesity are highly prevalent, and major impacts on public health frequently co-occur. Recently, we reported that having depression moderates the effect of the FTO gene, suggesting its implication in the association between depression and obesity.
To confirm these findings by investigating the FTO polymorphism rs9939609 in new cohorts, and subsequently in a meta-analysis.
The sample consists of 6902 individuals with depression and 6799 controls from three replication cohorts and two original discovery cohorts. Linear regression models were performed to test for association between rs9939609 and body mass index (BMI), and for the interaction between rs9939609 and depression status for an effect on BMI. Fixed and random effects meta-analyses were performed using METASOFT.
In the replication cohorts, we observed a significant interaction between FTO, BMI and depression with fixed effects meta-analysis (β=0.12, P = 2.7 × 10−4) and with the Han/Eskin random effects method (P = 1.4 × 10−7) but not with traditional random effects (β = 0.1, P = 0.35). When combined with the discovery cohorts, random effects meta-analysis also supports the interaction (β = 0.12, P = 0.027) being highly significant based on the Han/Eskin model (P = 6.9 × 10−8). On average, carriers of the risk allele who have depression have a 2.2% higher BMI for each risk allele, over and above the main effect of FTO.
This meta-analysis provides additional support for a significant interaction between FTO, depression and BMI, indicating that depression increases the effect of FTO on BMI. The findings provide a useful starting point in understanding the biological mechanism involved in the association between obesity and depression.
The identification of biomarkers for depression is of great clinical relevance as the diagnosis is currently subjective. Recent research points towards sortilin as a potential biomarker for depression, and the aim of the current study was to investigate the serum sortilin level in response to antidepressant treatment.
The study included 56 depressed individuals of which 41 responded to treatment. Depression scores and serum levels of sortilin were measured at baseline and after 12 weeks of antidepressant treatment. Statistical analyses were performed using Stata 13.
The depression score and response to treatment were not predicted by the sortilin level. Likewise, we observed no significant change in serum sortilin levels following 12 weeks of antidepressant treatment. Furthermore, no association between the serum sortilin level and depression score was observed.
The results do not point towards sortilin as a state-dependent biomarker.
Anxiety disorders and depression are the most common mental disorders worldwide and have a striking impact on global disease burden. Although depression has consistently been found to increase mortality; the role of anxiety disorders in predicting mortality risk is unclear.
To assess mortality risk in people with anxiety disorders.
We used nationwide Danish register data to conduct a prospective cohort study with over 30 million person-years of follow-up.
In total, 1066 (2.1%) people with anxiety disorders died during an average follow-up of 9.7 years. The risk of death by natural and unnatural causes was significantly higher among individuals with anxiety disorders (natural mortality rate ratio (MRR) = 1.39, 95% CI 1.28–1.51; unnatural MRR= 2.46, 95% CI 2.20–2.73) compared with the general population. Of those who died from unnatural causes, 16.5% had comorbid diagnoses of depression (MRR = 11.72, 95% CI 10.11–13.51).
Anxiety disorders significantly increased mortality risk. Comorbidity of anxiety disorders and depression played an important part in the increased mortality.
Dysregulation of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis has been reported in depression. The aim was to investigate the potential association between depression and seven genes regulating or interfering with the HPA axis, including the gene encoding angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE).
In total, 78 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and one insertion/deletion polymorphism were genotyped. The study included 408 individuals with depression and 289 controls. In a subset of cases, the interaction between genetic variants and stressful life events (SLEs) was investigated.
After quality control, 68 genetic variants were left for analyses. Four of nine variants within ACE were nominally associated with depression and a gene-wise association was likewise observed. However, none of the SNPs located within AVP, CRH, CRHR1, CRHR2, FKBP5 or NC3C1 were associated with depression. One nominally significant interaction, most likely due to chance, was identified.
The results indicate that ACE could be a potential candidate gene for depression.
People born in densely populated areas have a higher risk of developing
schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and autism.
The purpose of this study was to investigate whether urban–rural
differences in place of birth influence a broad range of mental
Population-based cohort study of everyone born in Denmark between 1955
and 2006 (n = 2 894 640). Main outcome measures were
incidence rate ratios for five levels of urbanisation and summary
estimates contrasting birth in the capital with birth in rural areas.
For all psychiatric disorders, except intellectual disability (ICD-10
‘mental retardation’) and behavioural and emotional disorders with onset
in childhood, people born in the capital had a higher incidence than
people born in rural areas.
Birth in an urban environment is associated with an increased risk for
mental illness in general and for a broad range of specific psychiatric
disorders. Given this new evidence that urban–rural differences in
incidence are not confined to the well-studied psychotic disorders,
further work is needed to identify the underlying aetiopathogenic
In bipolar disorder, treatment with antidepressants without concomitant use of mood stabilisers (antidepressant monotherapy) is associated with development of mania and rapid cycling and is therefore not recommended. The present study aimed to investigate the psychopharmacological treatment patterns in bipolar disorder over time, with a focus on antidepressant monotherapy.
Cohort study with annual cross-sectional assessment of the use of psychotropic medications between 1995 and 2012 for all Danish residents aged 10 years or older with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder registered in the Danish Psychiatric Central Research Register. Users of a given psychotropic medication were defined as individuals having filled at least one prescription for that particular medication in the year of interest.
We identified 20 618 individuals with bipolar disorder. The proportion of patients with bipolar disorder using antidepressants, atypical antipsychotics and anticonvulsants increased over the study period, while the proportion of patients using lithium, typical antipsychotics and benzodiazepines/sedatives decreased. The proportion of patients treated with antidepressant monotherapy decreased from 20.5% in 1997 to 12.1% in 2012, and among antidepressant users, the proportion in monotherapy decreased from 47.7% to 23.9%, primarily driven by a decrease in the use of tricyclic antidepressants.
The results show an increase in the proportion of patients with bipolar disorder being treated with antidepressants in the period from 1997 to 2012. However, in accordance with international treatment guidelines, the extent of antidepressant monotherapy decreased during the same period.