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Researchers have shown that the relationship between physical and mental illness is closer than previously thought. Certain changes in physical health that can be seen in childhood are related to the development of mental illness in adulthood.

The researchers, led by the University of Cambridge, examined how insulin levels and body mass index (BMI) in childhood can be related to depression and psychosis in young adulthood using a sample of over 10,000 people.

They found that persistently high insulin levels from mid-childhood were linked to a higher chance of developing psychosis in adulthood. Additionally, they found that an increase in BMI at the onset of puberty was associated with a higher chance of developing depression in adulthood, especially in girls. The results were consistent after considering a number of other possible factors.

The results, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, suggest that early signs of developing physical health problems could be long before symptoms of psychosis or depression develop, and show that the relationship between physical and mental illness is more complex than previously thought.

However, the researchers caution that these risk factors are both genetic and environmental, and that their results do not suggest that one can predict the likelihood of developing mental disorders in adults based on these physical health measures alone.

The researchers recommend health professionals doing a thorough physical exam in young people with symptoms of psychosis or depression so that signs of physical illness can be diagnosed early and treated early. It is well known that people with depression and psychosis can have a life expectancy of up to 20 years, which is below the general population, mainly because physical health problems such as diabetes and obesity are more common in adults with these mental disorders.

While it is known that adult psychosis and depression are associated with significantly higher rates of diabetes and obesity than the general population, these associations are often attributed to the symptoms of the mental disorder itself.

“The common assumption in the past has been that some people with psychosis and depression are more likely to have poor diet and less exercise, so any adverse physical health problems are due to the mental disorder or treatment for it,” the lead author said Dr. Benjamin Perry of the Cambridge Department of Psychiatry. “Essentially, the wisdom received is that the mental disorder comes first. However, we have found that it may not, and in some individuals it may be the other way around, suggesting that physical health problems are already in the Recognizable in childhood could be risk factors for psychosis and depression in adults. “

Using data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), a population-representative, long-term birth cohort study in the west of England, Perry and colleagues found that insulin disorder can be detected long in childhood with the onset of psychosis, suggesting that some people with psychosis have an inherent susceptibility to developing diabetes.

They used a statistical method to group people based on similar changes in insulin levels and BMI from age 1 through age 24, and looked at how the different groups were related to the risk of depression and psychosis in adulthood. About 75% of the study participants had normal insulin levels, between 15% and 18% had insulin levels that gradually increased in adolescence, and about 3% had relatively high insulin levels. This third group was more likely than the average group to develop psychosis in adulthood.

The researchers did not find that the group with persistently high BMI in childhood and adolescence had a significantly increased risk of depression in adulthood, and instead suggest that their results suggest that certain factors around puberty were causing an increase BMI are potentially important risk factors for depression in adulthood. The researchers were unable to determine what these factors could be in their study, and future research will be needed to find them. These factors could be important goals in reducing the risk of both types of depression in adulthood.

“These results are an important reminder that all young people with mental health problems should be offered a full and comprehensive assessment of their physical health in relation to their mental health,” said Perry. “Early intervention is the best way to reduce the mortality gap sadly faced by people with mental disorders such as depression and psychosis.

“The next step will be to find out exactly why persistently high insulin levels from childhood increase the risk of psychosis in adulthood and why increasing BMI around puberty increases the risk of depression in adulthood. This could pave the way for better preventative measures Actions and the potential for new treatment goals. ”

Childhood trauma related to early psychosis later in life

More information:
JAMA Psychiatry (2021). DOI: 10.1001 / jamapsychiatry.2020.4180 Provided by the University of Cambridge

Quote: High levels of insulin during childhood pose a risk of mental health problems in adulthood. The study suggests that (2021 January 13) January 13, 2021 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-01-high -insulin-childhood-mental- was retrieved. health.html

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