New research shows that the risk of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder may be able to be seen years before the illness starts.
A study led by University College Dublin and paid for by the Health Research Board found that half of the people with these mental health problems had been to CAMHS (specialist child and adolescent mental health services) when they were younger.
Professor Ian Kelleher from the UCD School of Medicine, who led the international study done with the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare and published in the journal World Psychiatry, says the results show that earlier intervention and even prevention might be possible (THL).
“Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder usually show up in early adulthood, and they can be very bad for both the person who has them and their family,” he said.
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“Our research shows that half of the people who get schizophrenia or bipolar disorder went to CAMHS at some point in their childhood, usually many years before they got sick”.
“We know that early intervention is key to improving outcomes for people with serious mental illness. These findings show the huge opportunities to provide much earlier intervention, even while the person is still a child, by developing specialist early intervention services within existing child and adolescent mental health services ”.
Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are both serious mental illnesses that affect about 65 million people around the world. Both disorders are usually found in adults and can cause a lot of trouble for the person and society as a whole. People with these illnesses, on the other hand, tend to do better when help is given early on.
The people who did the new study used Finland’s world-class healthcare registers to follow everyone born in 1987 through childhood and adolescence to find out if they ever went to CAMHS between birth and age 17 years.
Using unique patient IDs, the researchers were able to keep track of all of these people until they were 28 years old and see who was later diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
They found that people who had never been to CAMHS had a 1.8% chance of having psychosis or bipolar disorder by the age of 28. But the risk was 15% for people who had been to outpatient CAMHS as a teen, and it was 37% for people who had been admitted to an inpatient CAMHS hospital as a teen.
“Professor Mika Gissler, THL, said, “This study shows how electronic health records can be used to answer important questions about human health and disease.”
“It shows how data from healthcare registers can be used to better understand the paths to serious mental illness, from childhood to adulthood, and to find important early intervention opportunities.”
Professor Ian Kelleher said, “We know it’s important to act as soon as possible to stop some of the worst effects of these diseases.” But ideally, we’d like to be able to stop illness before it starts and keep it from happening at all.
These results show that we might be able to stop these serious mental illnesses from happening much earlier than we do now, even in childhood and adolescence.
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