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Researchers: Traumatic childhood related to psychotic experiences


Researchers found a link between childhood traumas and psychotic experiences at the age of 18.

The University of Bristol study was published in JAMA Psychiatry. The findings are the first to examine extensively the association between the different types of trauma and their childhood with later psychotic experiences using a large population survey. Psychotic experiences include abnormal experiences such as voice hearing or feelings of paranoia.

The researchers used Bristol Kids data from the 90's to examine 4,433 participants who had clinical interviews and attended clinics at the age of 18. The study concludes that between 25 and 60 percent of young people who reported psychotic experiences (five percent of the sample) would not develop that if they had not been exposed to trauma such as bullying, domestic violence or emotional neglect as a child .

The results were consistent regardless of the socio-economic status or the genetic risk of mental health difficulties, which could inform future research and development of interventions.

A student at the Mental Academic Health Center, Jazz Croft, said: "Since about 5% of the population has psychotic experiences at some point in their lives and these often lead to mental health problems, it is important to understand more about the role of trauma has increased this risk.

"I wanted to look at the traumatic experiences during childhood using the data from the 90s for children because it allowed us to answer questions about the timing and type of trauma that previous studies could not examine in a comprehensive manner. "

The findings support that routine screening for psychotic experiences in children or young people exposed to trauma, especially those exposed at frequent occurrences, should be considered as a way to later prevent mental health problems. Understanding how trauma leads to psychotic experiences could lead to the development of newer treatments for psychosis.

Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Bristol and Cardiff University and co-author of the research Stanley Zammit added: "This work helps establish the importance of trauma in the etiology of psychotic experiences and can help inform clinical approach to reduce the impact of these very painful symptoms. "

Published: November 26, 2018 3:05 pm

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