A recent birth cohort study found that agnst in adolescents may be a precursor to schizophrenia, especially if “many” symptoms are present. In the study, positive, negative and general signs of psychosis were common among the adolescent group; however, those who had more than one symptom in each category later developed mental illness. In particular, symptoms such as social withdrawal and problems connecting with others were significant predictors. According to Dr. Pirjo Maki, MD, of the University of Oulu in Finland, this finding is new. The following is an excerpt of an article from Medpage Today that reviews the study:
The researchers derived their conclusions from a study of 9,215 young Finns born between July 1, 1985 and June 30, 1986. They were asked to participate in a field study in 2001 and 2002, when they were either 15 or 16 years old, using a 21-item questionnaire.
The results of the field study were correlated with the Finnish Hospital Discharge Register from 2002 to the end of 2005, Dr. Maki said.
All told, there were 17 cases of psychosis among the cohort, including three cases of schizophrenia, three of bipolar disease, two of psychotic depression, and nine of other psychoses.
The study found that 45% of boys and 27% of girls reported no positive symptoms — such as difficulty thinking clearly and feeling peculiar — but most reported one or more, with girls saying they had more of the 11 symptoms.
The study found that 13 of the 17 youths who had psychosis had three or more positive features, compared with less than a third of those who had no disorders — a difference that was significant at P<0.001.
In the same way, youths with three or more general features — such as depression and apathy or anxiety — were significantly more likely to be diagnosed with a psychosis, also at P<0.001, Dr. Maki reported.
Pastoral Action Point: The interesting thing about mental illness in general is that, while much of its origins may be genetic and attributed to heredity, therapy along with prescribed medications can and does yield significant results. For this cause, it is immensely important to connect individuals with professional help at the earliest sign of the onset of mental illness. Early detection is key.