Friday, May 29, 2015

Global Study Finds Some Members of General Population Report Psychotic Experiences

Psychotic experiences, such as hallucinations and delusions, are not restricted to individuals with certain mental illnesses—the general population sometimes experiences these symptoms too, according to a study published this week in JAMA Psychiatry.

Researchers from the University of Queensland in Australia and Harvard Medical School analyzed data from the World Health Organization World Mental Health Surveys that included more than 31,000 adults to assess the lifetime prevalence of psychotic experiences among the general population. 

The analysis revealed that 5.8 percent of those surveyed reported having at least one psychotic experience in their lifetime, with hallucinatory experience being the most prevalent at 5.2 percent compared with delusional experience at 1.3 percent. The results also showed lifetime prevalence of psychotic experiences was higher among women (6.6 percent) than men (5 percent), and higher among individuals who lived in middle-income (7.2 percent) and high-income (6.8 percent) countries than those in low-income countries (3.2 percent). However, the psychotic experiences were infrequent, with 32.2 percent of respondents with lifetime psychotic experiences reporting only one episode and 31.8 percent reporting having experienced two to five episodes. 

“We are interested in learning why some people recover, while others may progress to more serious disorders such as schizophrenia,” John McGrath, M.D., Ph.D., a research professor in the Queensland Brain Institute and lead author of the study, said in a press release. “We can use these findings to start identifying whether the mechanisms causing these hallucinations are the same or different in both situations.” 

For more on psychosis in the general population, see the Psychiatric Services article “Treatment Seeking and Unmet Need for Care Among Persons Reporting Psychosis-Like Experiences.”

(Image: Naeblys/


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