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Trauma is prevalent amongst early psychosis patients and associated with adverse outcomes. Past trials of trauma-focused therapy have focused on chronic patients with psychosis/schizophrenia and comorbid Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). We aimed to determine the feasibility of a large-scale randomized controlled trial (RCT) of an Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing for psychosis (EMDRp) intervention for early psychosis service users.
A single-blind RCT comparing 16 sessions of EMDRp + TAU v. TAU only was conducted. Participants completed baseline, 6-month and 12-month post-randomization assessments. EMDRp and trial assessments were delivered both in-person and remotely due to COVID-19 restrictions. Feasibility outcomes were recruitment and retention, therapy attendance/engagement, adherence to EMDRp treatment protocol, and the ‘promise of efficacy’ of EMDRp on relevant clinical outcomes.
Sixty participants (100% of the recruitment target) received TAU or EMDR + TAU. 83% completed at least one follow-up assessment, with 74% at 6-month and 70% at 12-month. 74% of EMDRp + TAU participants received at least eight therapy sessions and 97% rated therapy sessions demonstrated good treatment fidelity. At 6-month, there were signals of promise of efficacy of EMDRp + TAU v. TAU for total psychotic symptoms (PANSS), subjective recovery from psychosis, PTSD symptoms, depression, anxiety, and general health status. Signals of efficacy at 12-month were less pronounced but remained robust for PTSD symptoms and general health status.
The trial feasibility criteria were fully met, and EMDRp was associated with promising signals of efficacy on a range of valuable clinical outcomes. A larger-scale, multi-center trial of EMDRp is feasible and warranted.
Childhood adversity and cannabis use are considered independent risk factors for psychosis, but whether different patterns of cannabis use may be acting as mediator between adversity and psychotic disorders has not yet been explored. The aim of this study is to examine whether cannabis use mediates the relationship between childhood adversity and psychosis.
Data were utilised on 881 first-episode psychosis patients and 1231 controls from the European network of national schizophrenia networks studying Gene–Environment Interactions (EU-GEI) study. Detailed history of cannabis use was collected with the Cannabis Experience Questionnaire. The Childhood Experience of Care and Abuse Questionnaire was used to assess exposure to household discord, sexual, physical or emotional abuse and bullying in two periods: early (0–11 years), and late (12–17 years). A path decomposition method was used to analyse whether the association between childhood adversity and psychosis was mediated by (1) lifetime cannabis use, (2) cannabis potency and (3) frequency of use.
The association between household discord and psychosis was partially mediated by lifetime use of cannabis (indirect effect coef. 0.078, s.e. 0.022, 17%), its potency (indirect effect coef. 0.059, s.e. 0.018, 14%) and by frequency (indirect effect coef. 0.117, s.e. 0.038, 29%). Similar findings were obtained when analyses were restricted to early exposure to household discord.
Harmful patterns of cannabis use mediated the association between specific childhood adversities, like household discord, with later psychosis. Children exposed to particularly challenging environments in their household could benefit from psychosocial interventions aimed at preventing cannabis misuse.
The psychosis continuum implies that subclinical psychotic experiences (PEs) can be differentiated from clinically relevant expressions since they are not accompanied by a ‘need for care’.
Using data from Wave 2 of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC; N = 34 653), the current study examined variation in functioning, symptomology and aetiological risk across the psychosis phenotype [i.e. variation from (i) no PEs, ‘No PEs’ to (ii) non-distressing PEs, ‘PE-Experienced Only’ to (iii) distressing PEs, ‘PE-Impaired’ to (iv) clinically defined psychotic disorder, ‘Diagnosed’].
A graded trend was present such that, compared to those with no PEs, the Diagnosed group had the poorest functioning, followed by the PE-Impaired then PE-Experienced Only groups. In relation to symptom expression, the PE-Impaired group were more likely than the PE-Experienced Only and the Diagnosed groups to endorse most PEs. Predictors of group membership tended to vary quantitatively rather than qualitatively. Trauma, current mental health diagnoses (anxiety and depression) and drug use variables differentiated between all levels of the continuum, with the exception of the extreme end (PE-Impaired v. Diagnosed). Only a few variables distinguished groups at the upper end of the continuum: female sex, older age, unemployment, parental mental health hospitalisation and lower likelihood of having experienced physical assault.
The findings highlight the importance of continuum-based interpretations of the psychosis phenotype and afford valuable opportunities to consider if and how impairment, symptom expression and risk change along the continuum.
Current information about the prevalence of various mental health disorders in the general adult population of the Republic of Ireland is lacking. In this study, we examined the prevalence of 12 common mental disorders, the proportion of adults who screened positive for any disorder, the sociodemographic factors associated with meeting criteria for a disorder and the associations between each disorder and history of attempted suicide.
A non-probability nationally representative sample (N = 1110) of adults living in Ireland completed self-report measures of 12 mental health disorders. Effect sizes were calculated using odds ratios from logistic regression models, and population attributable risk fractions (PAFs) were estimated to quantify the associations between each disorder and attempted suicide.
Prevalence rates ranged from 15.0% (insomnia disorder) to 1.7% (histrionic personality disorder). Overall, 42.5% of the sample met criteria for a mental health disorder, and 11.1% had a lifetime history of attempted suicide. Younger age, being a shift worker and trauma exposure were independently associated with a higher likelihood of having a mental health disorder, while being in university was associated with a lower likelihood of having a disorder. ICD-11 complex posttraumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder and insomnia disorder had the highest PAFs for attempted suicide.
Mental health disorder prevalence in Ireland is relatively high compared to international estimates. The findings are discussed in relation to important mental health policy implications.
The current study argues that population prevalence estimates for mental health disorders, or changes in mean scores over time, may not adequately reflect the heterogeneity in mental health response to the COVID-19 pandemic within the population.
The COVID-19 Psychological Research Consortium (C19PRC) Study is a longitudinal, nationally representative, online survey of UK adults. The current study analysed data from its first three waves of data collection: Wave 1 (March 2020, N = 2025), Wave 2 (April 2020, N = 1406) and Wave 3 (July 2020, N = 1166). Anxiety-depression was measured using the Patient Health Questionnaire Anxiety and Depression Scale (a composite measure of the PHQ-9 and GAD-7) and COVID-19-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with the International Trauma Questionnaire. Changes in mental health outcomes were modelled across the three waves. Latent class growth analysis was used to identify subgroups of individuals with different trajectories of change in anxiety-depression and COVID-19 PTSD. Latent class membership was regressed on baseline characteristics.
Overall prevalence of anxiety-depression remained stable, while COVID-19 PTSD reduced between Waves 2 and 3. Heterogeneity in mental health response was found, and hypothesised classes reflecting (i) stability, (ii) improvement and (iii) deterioration in mental health were identified. Psychological factors were most likely to differentiate the improving, deteriorating and high-stable classes from the low-stable mental health trajectories.
A low-stable profile characterised by little-to-no psychological distress (‘resilient’ class) was the most common trajectory for both anxiety-depression and COVID-19 PTSD. Monitoring these trajectories is necessary moving forward, in particular for the ~30% of individuals with increasing anxiety-depression levels.
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) emergency has led to numerous attempts to assess the impact of the pandemic on population mental health. The findings indicate an increase in depression and anxiety but have been limited by the lack of specificity about which aspects of the pandemic (e.g. viral exposure or economic threats) have led to adverse mental health outcomes.
Network analyses were conducted on data from wave 1 (N = 2025, recruited 23 March–28 March 2020) and wave 2 (N = 1406, recontacts 22 April–1 May 2020) of the COVID-19 Psychological Research Consortium Study, an online longitudinal survey of a representative sample of the UK adult population. Our models included depression (PHQ-9), generalized anxiety (GAD-7) and trauma symptoms (ITQ); and measures of COVID-specific anxiety, exposure to the virus in self and close others, as well as economic loss due to the pandemic.
A mixed graphical model at wave 1 identified a potential pathway from economic adversity to anxiety symptoms via COVID-specific anxiety. There was no association between viral exposure and symptoms. Ising network models using clinical cut-offs for symptom scores at each wave yielded similar findings, with the exception of a modest effect of viral exposure on trauma symptoms at wave 1 only. Anxiety and depression symptoms formed separate clusters at wave 1 but not wave 2.
The psychological impact of the pandemic evolved in the early phase of lockdown. COVID-related anxiety may represent the mechanism through which economic consequences of the pandemic are associated with psychiatric symptoms.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented global crisis, necessitating drastic changes to living conditions, social life, personal freedom and economic activity. No study has yet examined the presence of psychiatric symptoms in the UK population under similar conditions.
We investigated the prevalence of COVID-19-related anxiety, generalised anxiety, depression and trauma symptoms in the UK population during an early phase of the pandemic, and estimated associations with variables likely to influence these symptoms.
Between 23 and 28 March 2020, a quota sample of 2025 UK adults aged 18 years and older, stratified by age, gender and household income, was recruited by online survey company Qualtrics. Participants completed standardised measures of depression, generalised anxiety and trauma symptoms relating to the pandemic. Bivariate and multivariate associations were calculated for demographic and health-related variables.
Higher levels of anxiety, depression and trauma symptoms were reported compared with previous population studies, but not dramatically so. Anxiety or depression and trauma symptoms were predicted by young age, presence of children in the home, and high estimates of personal risk. Anxiety and depression were also predicted by low income, loss of income and pre-existing health conditions in self and others. Specific anxiety about COVID-19 was greater in older participants.
This study showed a modest increase in the prevalence of mental health problems in the early stages of the pandemic, and these problems were predicted by several specific COVID-related variables. Further similar surveys, particularly of those with children at home, are required as the pandemic progresses.
Studies have shown that there are overlapping traits and symptoms between autism and psychosis but no study to date has addressed this association from an epidemiological approach in the adult general population. Furthermore, it is not clear whether autistic traits are associated with specific symptoms of psychosis or with psychosis in general. We assess these associations for the first time by using the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS) 2007 and the APMS 2014, predicting an association between autistic traits and probable psychosis, and specific associations between autistic traits and paranoia and strange experiences.
Participants (N = 7353 in 2007 and 7500 in 2014) completed the Psychosis Screening Questionnaire (PSQ) and a 20-item version of the Autism Quotient (AQ-20). Binomial logistic regressions were performed using AQ-20 as the independent variable and probable psychosis and specific symptoms as dependent variables.
In the APMS 2007 dataset, significant associations were found between autism traits and probable psychosis, paranoia, thought insertion, and strange experiences. These results were replicated in APMS 2014 but with the additional significant association between autistic traits and hallucinations. Participants in the highest quartile of the AQ-20, compared with the lowest quartile, had an increased risk of probable psychosis of odds ratio (OR) = 15.5 [95% confidence interval (CI) 4.57–52.6] in APMS 2007 and OR = 22.5 (95% CI 7.64–66.3) in APMS 2014.
Autistic traits are strongly associated with probable psychosis and psychotic experiences with the exception of mania. Limitations such as the cross-sectional nature of the study are discussed.
Dimensional models of psychopathology are increasingly common and there is evidence for the existence of a general dimension of psychopathology (‘p’). The existing literature presents two ways to model p: as a bifactor or as a higher-order dimension. Bifactor models typically fit sample data better than higher-order models, and are often selected as better fitting alternatives but there are reasons to be cautious of such an approach to model selection. In this study the bifactor and higher-order models of p were compared in relation to associations with established risk variables for mental illness.
A trauma exposed community sample from the United Kingdom (N = 1051) completed self-report measures of 49 symptoms of psychopathology.
A higher-order model with four first-order dimensions (Fear, Distress, Externalising and Thought Disorder) and a higher-order p dimension provided satisfactory model fit, and a bifactor representation provided superior model fit. Bifactor p and higher-order p were highly correlated (r = 0.97) indicating that both parametrisations produce near equivalent general dimensions of psychopathology. Latent variable models including predictor variables showed that the risk variables explained more variance in higher-order p than bifactor p. The higher-order model produced more interpretable associations for the first-order/specific dimensions compared to the bifactor model.
The higher-order representation of p, as described in the Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology, appears to be a more appropriate way to conceptualise the general dimension of psychopathology than the bifactor approach. The research and clinical implications of these discrepant ways of modelling p are discussed.
Communication deviance (CD) reflects features of the content or manner of a person's speech that may confuse the listener and inhibit the establishment of a shared focus of attention. The construct was developed in the context of the study of familial risks for psychosis based on hypotheses regarding its effects during childhood. It is not known whether parental CD is associated with nonverbal parental behaviors that may be important in early development. This study explored the association between CD in a cohort of mothers (n = 287) at 32 weeks gestation and maternal sensitivity with infants at 29 weeks in a standard play procedure. Maternal CD predicted lower overall maternal sensitivity (B = –.385; p < .001), and the effect was somewhat greater for sensitivity to infant distress (B = –.514; p < .001) than for sensitivity to nondistress (B = –.311; p < .01). After controlling for maternal age, IQ and depression, and for socioeconomic deprivation, the associations with overall sensitivity and sensitivity to distress remained significant. The findings provide new pointers to intergenerational transmission of vulnerability involving processes implicated in both verbal and nonverbal parental behaviors.
Poor social cognition is prevalent in schizophrenia spectrum disorders. Some authors argue that these effects are symptom-specific and that socio-cognitive difficulties (e.g. theory of mind) are strongly associated with thought disorder and symptoms of disorganisation.
The current review tests the strength of this association.
We meta-analysed studies published between 1980 and 2016 that tested the association between social cognition and these symptoms in schizophrenia spectrum disorders.
Our search (PsycINFO, MEDLINE and Web of Science) identified 123 studies (N = 9107). Overall effect size as r = −0.313, indicating a moderate association between symptoms and social cognition. Subanalyses yielded a moderate association between symptoms and theory of mind (r = −0.349) and emotion recognition (r = −0.334), but smaller effect sizes for social perception (r = −0.188), emotion regulation (r = −0.169) and attributional biases (r = −0.143).
The association is interpreted within models of communication that highlight the importance of mentalisation and processing of partner-specific cues in conversational alignment and grounding.
In recent years, the Kraepelinian dichotomy has been challenged in light of evidence on shared genetic and environmental factors for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, but empirical efforts to identify a transdiagnostic phenotype of psychosis remain remarkably limited.
To investigate whether schizophrenia spectrum and bipolar disorder lie on a transdiagnostic spectrum with overlapping non-affective and affective psychotic symptoms.
Multidimensional item-response modelling was conducted on symptom ratings of the OPerational CRITeria (OPCRIT) system in 1168 patients with schizophrenia spectrum and bipolar disorder.
A bifactor model with one general, transdiagnostic psychosis dimension underlying affective and non-affective psychotic symptoms and five specific dimensions of positive, negative, disorganised, manic and depressive symptoms provided the best model fit and diagnostic utility for categorical classification.
Our findings provide support for including dimensional approaches into classification systems and a directly measurable clinical phenotype for cross-disorder investigations into shared genetic and environmental factors of psychosis.
Research has highlighted the importance of recovery as defined by the
service user, and suggests a link to negative emotion, although little is
known about the role of negative emotion in predicting subjective
To investigate longitudinal predictors of variability in recovery scores
with a focus on the role of negative emotion.
Participants (n=110) with experience of psychosis
completed measures of psychiatric symptoms, social functioning,
subjective recovery, depression, hopelessness and self-esteem at baseline
and 6 months later. Path analysis was used to examine predictive factors
for recovery and negative emotion.
Subjective recovery scores were predicted by negative emotion, positive
self-esteem and hopelessness, and to a lesser extent by symptoms and
functioning. Current recovery score was not predicted by past recovery
score after accounting for past symptoms, current hopelessness and
current positive self-esteem.
Psychosocial factors and negative emotion appear to be the strongest
longitudinal predictors of variation in subjective recovery, rather than
Background: There is controversy as to whether psychological defensive avoidance is associated with paranoia. Aims: To elucidate whether “Poor-me” paranoid patients, who believe that the persecution they perceive is undeserved, show more prominent avoidance of negative thoughts about themselves than healthy and clinical controls. Method: The act of avoidance of aversive mental contents was assessed in 27 healthy controls and 48 patients with poor-me, bad-me (perceived to be deserved) or no paranoia. Defensive avoidance was assessed via established questionnaires, a novel task based on self-discrepancy theory and research-clinician ratings. Results: Participants in all groups showed substantial levels of verbal defensive avoidance. Paranoia was associated with reduced self-reported tolerance of negative mental contents (high Experiential Avoidance, EA). Contrary to our hypotheses, poor-me and bad-me patients showed similar EA. All participant groups showed similar levels of verbal defensive avoidance. Conclusion: The findings do not support an association of psychological avoidance with paranoia.
After decades of ignoring or minimising the prevalence and effects of negative events in childhood, researchers have recently established that a broad range of adverse childhood events are significant risk factors for most mental health problems, including psychosis. Researchers are now investigating the biological and psychological mechanisms involved. In addition to the development of a traumagenic neurodevelopmental model for psychosis, the exploration of a range of psychological processes, including attachment and dissociation, is shedding light on the specific aetiologies of discrete phenomena such as hallucinations and delusions. It is argued that the theoretical, clinical and primary prevention implications of our belated focus on childhood are profound.
Mental health services and research have been dominated for several decades by a rather simplistic, reductionistic focus on biological phenomena, with minimal consideration of the social context within which genes and brains inevitably operate. This ‘medical model’ ideology, enthusiastically supported by the pharmaceutical industry, has been particularly powerful in the field of psychosis, where it has led to unjustified and damaging pessimism about recovery. The failure to find robust evidence of a genetic predisposition for psychosis in general, or ‘schizophrenia’ in particular, can be understood in terms of recently developed knowledge about how epigenetic processes turn gene transcription on and off through mechanisms that are highly influenced by the individual's socio-environmental experiences. To understand the emerging evidence of the relationship between adverse childhood events and subsequent psychosis, it is necessary to integrate these epigenetic processes, especially those involving the stress regulating functions of the HPA axis, with research about the psychological mechanisms by which specific types of childhood trauma can lead to specific types of psychotic experiences. The implications, for research, mental health services and primary prevention, are profound.
Declaration of Interest: None of the authors have any conflicts of interest in relation to this paper.
Psychological processes in bipolar disorder are of both clinical and theoretical importance.
To examine depressogenic psychological processes and reward responsivity in relation to different mood episodes (mania, depression, remission) and bipolar symptomatology.
One hundred and seven individuals with bipolar disorder (34 in a manic/hypomanic or mixed affective state; 30 in a depressed state and 43 who were euthymic) and 41 healthy controls were interviewed with Structured Clinical Interview for DSM–IV and completed a battery of self-rated and experimental measures assessing negative cognitive styles, coping response to negative affect, self-esteem stability and reward responsiveness.
Individuals in all episodes differed from controls on most depression-related and reward responsivity measures. However, correlational analyses revealed clear relationships between negative cognitive styles and depressive symptoms, and reward responsivity and manic symptoms.
Separate psychological processes are implicated in depression and mania, but cognitive vulnerability to depression is evident even in patients who are euthymic.