A history of childhood trauma, including abuse and neglect, is common among patients who experience first-episode psychosis, a study in the Journal of Psychiatric Research suggests.
Judith Usall, Ph.D., of the Institut de Recerca Sant Joan de Déu in Esplugues de Llobregat, Spain, and colleagues examined data from 100 hospitalized patients with first-episode psychosis and 94 volunteers with no history of first-episode psychosis in the PROFEP study. This longitudinal study explores the factors and variables that may influence the development and evolution of patients with first-episode psychosis. All patients were assessed via the Childhood Traumatic Questionnaire, the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale, the Personal and Social Performance Scale, the Suicide Risk Scale of Plutchik, and the Perceived Stress Scale.
Roughly 61% of patients with first-episode psychosis reported having experienced childhood trauma compared with roughly 17% of people who did not have first-episode psychosis.
The most frequent childhood trauma was emotional abuse: 33% of patients with first-episode psychosis had experienced emotional abuse as children, compared with 10% of people without first-episode psychosis. Among patients with first-episode psychosis, 22% reported physical neglect, 20% reported emotional neglect, and 13% reported physical abuse, compared with 1%, 4%, and 2%, respectively, of people without first-episode psychosis. Patients with first-episode psychosis had fewer years of education, more cannabis use, more perceived stress, and a higher risk of suicide compared with people without first-episode psychosis.
“Our results highlight possible causal links between childhood trauma and subsequent onset of psychosis. However, causal effects should be tested in longitudinal research,” Usall and colleagues wrote. “[E]xploring a history of childhood trauma should be considered when working with patients with [first-episode psychosis] or at ultra-high risk of psychosis.”
For related information, see the Psychiatric Services article “Associations Between Childhood and Adolescence Adversity and Risk for Arrest Among Patients With First-Episode Psychosis.”