Summary: Researchers report that bipolar depression and schizophrenia can be detectable years before symptoms appear. A new study reports that 50% of patients diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder consulted specialist child and adolescent mental health services during childhood.
According to new research, the risk of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder may be detectable years before the onset of the disease.
A study led by University College Dublin and funded by the Health Research Board found that 50% of people who developed these mental health conditions had attended specialist child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) as children.
Published in the journal global psychiatry, the results suggest the possibility of earlier intervention and even prevention according to Professor Ian Kelleher, of the UCD School of Medicine, who led the international study carried out in collaboration with the Finnish Institute for Health and well-being (THL).
“Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder typically appear in early adulthood and can have a devastating impact on those affected, as well as their families,” he said.
“Our results show that half of people who develop these illnesses had come to CAMHS at some point in their childhood, typically several years before developing schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
“We know that early intervention is key to improving outcomes for people with serious mental illness. These results demonstrate the enormous opportunities to provide much earlier intervention, even during childhood, by developing specialized early intervention services within existing child and adolescent mental health services.”
Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are serious mental illnesses that affect approximately 65 million people worldwide. Both disorders are typically diagnosed in adulthood and are often associated with high levels of disability, as well as personal and societal costs. Early intervention, however, is known to lead to better outcomes for those affected by these diseases.
The researchers behind the new study used Finland’s world-renowned healthcare registries to trace everyone born in 1987 through childhood and adolescence to see if, between birth and the age of 17, they have already attended CAMHS.
Using unique patient identifiers, the researchers were then able to follow all of these people up to the age of 28 and see who was then diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
They found that the risk of psychosis or bipolar disorder at age 28 was 1.8% for people who had not attended CAMHS. However, for people who had attended outpatient CAMHS as teenagers, the risk was 15% and for people who had been admitted to an inpatient CAMHS adolescent hospital, the risk was 37%.
“This research shows the power of electronic health care registries to answer important questions about human health and disease,” said Professor Mika Gissler, THL.
“It shows how data from health care registries can be used to better understand pathways to serious mental illness, from childhood through adulthood, and to identify critical opportunities for early intervention.”
Underlining the importance of early intervention, Professor Ian Kelleher said: “We know that intervening as early as possible is crucial to prevent some of the worst effects of these diseases. But ideally, we would like to be able to intervene even before the onset of the disease, to prevent it outright.
These findings highlight the possibility of intervening much earlier than we currently do, even in childhood and adolescence, to prevent the onset of these serious mental illnesses.”
About this mental health research news
Author: Dominique Hammer
Contact: Dominic Martella – TCD
Image: Image is in public domain
Original research: The findings will appear in Global Psychiatry
#Schizophrenia #Bipolar #Disorder #Detectable #Years #Diseases #Onset #Neuroscience #News