Friday, October 1, 2021

Genetic Risk of Some Mental Illnesses Tied to Increased Hospitalizations in Bipolar Disorder

Patients with bipolar disorder who have a high genetic risk for the condition or for schizophrenia may have a higher risk of hospitalization compared with those who have a lower genetic risk for either of these conditions, a study in the Journal of Affective Disorders has found.

Janos L. Kalman, M.D., of the Ludwig Maximillian University of Munich and colleagues analyzed the polygenic risk scores of 954 patients who had bipolar disorder for at least five years to determine if the patients’ genetic risk of bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, or schizophrenia was associated with severe bipolar disorder. (The polygenic risk score is the sum of the effects of genetic variations that may contribute to a trait or condition.) The researchers determined the severity of the patients’ bipolar disorder by the number of hospitalizations in a mental health facility. The researchers also looked at the patients’ scores on item 90 of the OPCRIT, which assesses the course of the disorder. They grouped the patients into two categories, according to the course of the disorder indicated in the OPCRIT: those with good recovery and those with chronic illness with residual symptoms.

The researchers found that higher polygenic risk scores for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia were associated with an increased number of hospitalizations. However, higher polygenic risk scores for major depressive disorder were not associated with hospitalizations.

Polygenic risk score did not appear to be associated with the severity of bipolar disorder as measured by item 90 of the OPCRIT. However, patients with chronic illness with residual symptoms had more hospitalizations than those with good recovery.

“[O]ur findings indicate … that common variants, as represented by [polygenic risk score], influence the disease course of psychiatric disorders in combination and interaction with additional genetic and environmental factors,” Kalman and colleagues wrote. “Therefore, prediction models that combine [polygenic risk score] with other genetic … and nongenetic risk factors may become helpful for stratifying patients and predicting disease courses.”

For related information, see the American Journal of Psychiatry article “Polygenic Risk and Progression to Bipolar or Psychotic Disorders Among Individuals Diagnosed With Unipolar Depression in Early Life.”

(Image: iStock/Boyloso)

How Can You Help Latina/o Patients During and After Pandemic?

In celebration of National Heritage Hispanic Month, APA’s Division of Diversity and Health Equity is sponsoring a fireside chat on “The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Mental Health of Latinas/os” on Monday, October 4, from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. ET. Panelists will examine strategies to improve the mental health of Latinas/os during and after the pandemic and will raise awareness of pandemic stressors such as unemployment, insurance benefits inequities, and social isolation.


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