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Early Psychosis Spectrum Symptoms Common in Youth Seeking Mental Health Help

Authors say findings may help identify youth at risk for psychosis spectrum symptoms

By Lori Solomon HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Feb. 8, 2024 (HealthDay News) — Almost half of youth seeking mental health services meet the threshold for psychosis spectrum symptoms (PSSs), according to a study recently published in Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging.

Kristin Cleverley, Ph.D., R.N., from the University of Toronto, and colleagues aimed to characterize developmental trajectories in youths with mental illness and to understand associations with PSSs, functioning, and suicidality. The analysis included data from 417 participants (aged 11 to 24 years) in the Toronto Adolescent and Youth Cohort Study (May 4, 2021, to Feb. 2, 2023) who were presenting to tertiary care for mental health problems not related to a psychotic disorder.

The researchers found that overall, participants met diagnostic criteria for an average of 3.5 psychiatric diagnoses, most frequently anxiety and depressive disorders. Just under half of participants (49 percent) met a pre-established threshold for PSSs. These symptoms were associated with higher rates of functional impairment, internalizing and externalizing symptoms, and suicidality compared with participants without PSSs.

“Early identification of PSSs, and in particular the subgroup of individuals who experience persistence of emerging PSS trajectories during this early developmental stage in life, enables opportunities to advance efforts at early intervention,” the authors write.

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