*The following is excerpted from an online article posted by StudyFinds.
Children and young teens who constantly experience high levels of anxiety are more likely to develop psychosis by their early 20s, according to researchers from the University of Birmingham. On a more positive note, their study also finds intervening early in an individual’s life — by targeting stress hormones and non-resolving inflammation — can reduce the risk of becoming psychotic at an older age.
Study authors set out to uncover any links between constant anxiety in childhood and adolescence and having psychotic experiences (PE) or a psychotic disorder (PD) by the age of 24. Thanks to data provided by the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), researchers were able to analyze 3,889 children. Each child underwent a mental health assessment at eight, 10, 13, and 24 years of age.
That analysis led to the conclusion that persistent anxiety as a child makes an individual more likely to develop PEs and PDs by age 24.
“Persistent high levels of anxiety in childhood and adolescence are linked to subsequent psychosis, but we may be able to prevent psychosis by targeting and treating early anxiety,” says lead study author Isabel Morales-Muñoz, from Birmingham’s Institute for Mental Health, in a media release. “Early diagnosis and management of adolescent anxiety and possibly novel treatments targeted at inflammation could be key actions to unlock treatment strategies that reduce the risk of children and adolescents going on to develop psychosis.”
The team published their findings in the journal Biological Psychiatry.