Psychosis-spectrum disorder

Growing up in impoverished urban neighborhoods more than doubles your chances over the average; a person of developing a psychosis-spectrum disorder by the time you reach middle adulthood; according to a new UC Davis and Concordia University study of nearly 4,000 families who monitored over 30 years. The results of the study suggest that intervention through social policies and investment in neighborhood improvements; as well as identifying those most in need of help by observing certain child behaviors, could prevent future debilitating illnesses; the societal and personal costs with them; said the study’s authors.

The impoverished communities

“One important message to take from this study is that the stresses and chronic day-to-day challenges of living in under-resourced or impoverished communities can undermine the individuals whether they seem to have a vulnerability or not. He explained that while heredity is a major factor in predicting schizophrenia; bipolar disorder and other disorders involving psychoses that is, breaks with reality, like delusional beliefs and hallucinations this study provides clear evidence that environmental factors experienced in childhood also affect future mental health.

Because the researchers were able to identify parental diagnoses in the sample studied; their analyses were able to predict the children’s future prevalence of psychiatric disorders above and beyond what would result from heredity. More than 6 percent of the children had developed schizophrenia; bipolar disorder with psychosis, and other psychosis-spectrum disorders by middle-adulthood; those children who grew up in the most economically disadvantaged neighborhoods had the greatest likelihood of being diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

Predictors of psychotic illnesses

The study also found childhood social behaviors to strong predictors of psychotic illnesses. In particular, children who were evaluated by their peers as both highly aggressive and highly withdrawn likely to develop psychosis-spectrum disorders if they also grew up in more impoverished neighborhoods. “This hypothesis was one of the reasons that Dr. Schwartzman and Dr. Ledingham started this study in 1976, and to my knowledge; this is the first prospective longitudinal study that shows that these combined characteristics of aggression and withdrawal predict future psychosis spectrum disorders,” Hastings said.
The study could help improve efforts to predict, identify and prevent serious mental illnesses, he said. “Once psychosis spectrum disorders take hold they are difficult to treat. It is kind of like ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis); similar illnesses,” Hastings added. “Disorders like schizophrenia really become chronic diseases that require constant care, management, and maintenance. Reducing them by improving neighborhood conditions for all families in economically disadvantaged communities, and working directly with the families of children showing risky profiles of behavior; could improve the quality of people’s lives and markedly reduce health care costs.”