Test Predicts Psychosis in Teens
Unusual Thoughts, Family History Linked to Risk
WebMD News Archive
Risk Factors for Psychosis continued...
Cannon says other changes in perception, such as hearing buzzing or
crackling sounds or seeing images that quickly disappear, often predict the
imminent onset of psychosis.
Among the study participants, 35% who exhibited one risk factor identified
in the predictive model developed a psychotic illness within 30 months. Those
who had two or three additional risk factors developed psychosis within the
same time period 68% to 80% of the time.
The NIMH-funded study is published in the January issue of the Archives
of General Psychiatry.
Earlier Treatment, Better Outcomes
If the findings are confirmed, the prediction model could help doctors
identify those at risk for psychotic illness much sooner so that these people
can be monitored closely for signs of active psychosis.
That is important because early treatment with antipsychotic drugs has been
shown to be associated with much more favorable outcomes, Heinssen tells
But no one is suggesting that the drugs be used in patients who have not yet
developed active psychosis.
"Treatment should begin as soon as a person crosses that threshold from
pre-psychosis to active psychosis," Heinssen says. "But active psychosis is
often present for weeks and even months before drugs are given."
Cannon, Heinssen, and colleagues also hope to move beyond symptoms to
identify biological markers that indicate a high risk for psychotic
Studies are planned or are under way examining the chemical changes within
the brain, hormonal changes, and changes in cognitive function in people with
Just as cholesterol and blood pressure are now used to assess heart disease
risk, these measures may one day help physicians determine someone's risk for
psychosis, Cannon and Heinssen tell WebMD.