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Early detection of schizophrenia

Jun. 24, 2019, 8:15 AM

by Leigh MacMillan

Detecting and treating schizophrenia early, perhaps even before symptoms arise, could lead to better therapeutic outcomes. Studies have demonstrated differences in social function and cognition among people who later develop symptoms of schizophrenia, but less is known about pre-morbid temperament and personality.

Jennifer Blackford, PhD, Brandee Feola, PhD, and colleagues studied inhibited temperament — a tendency to respond to novelty with wariness, fear or caution — in patients with schizophrenia compared to healthy controls.

Using self-reported measures of childhood inhibited temperament, clinical symptoms and quality of life, they found that patients had higher levels of inhibited temperament compared to controls. Inhibited temperament was associated with mood and anxiety symptoms and lower quality of life, but it was not associated with psychosis symptoms.

The investigators report in Psychiatry Research that inhibited temperament may be a pre-morbid risk factor for schizophrenia that could be targeted for preventative interventions. They also suggest that patients with schizophrenia and inhibited temperament may benefit from adjunctive treatments for anxiety and depression.

This research was supported by the Charlotte and Donald Test Fund, the Jack Martin MD Research Professorship in Psychopharmacology, the Vanderbilt Psychiatric Genotype/Phenotype Project, and grants from the National Institutes of Health (MH070560, MH102266, TR000445).

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