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A Finnish study indicates that adolescents with psychological symptoms fitting mental disorders, with or without diagnosis, are at an elevated risk for self-destructive behavior and psychosis if hallucinations are included.
The researchers found that early indications of psychosis risk can be detected long before the onset of a full-blown disorder.
Patients with schizophrenia are known to generally show a higher risk of suicide. Previous research on adolescents with psychological symptoms has shown that self-destructive thought patterns are more common among those who show a higher risk of psychosis than those who do not show such a risk.
The risk of psychosis is evaluated on the basis of whether the patient has experienced psychosis-like episodes, which are milder and occur less frequently than fully developed psychosis.
The research group in this latest study found that destructive thought processes were found in one-third of the 15-year-old adolescents referred to the Early Psychosis Recognition and Intervention. In the same group of adolescents, the other two-thirds had indications of psychological symptoms but fewer psychosis leanings and no self-destructive thoughts. Visual distortions and hallucinations were strongly linked to self-destructive behavior.
"Our study shows that self-destructive thoughts emerge simultaneously with the risk symptoms of psychosis, that is, long before psychosis is manifest," said lead researcher Dr. Niklas Granö.
The study recommends that school systems and teenage healthcare providers ask about hallucinations or test for them when psychological disorders are suspected.
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