Experts Determine Three Key Factors To Mental Illness And Early Interventions

Experts Determine Three Key Factors To Mental Illness And Early Interventions
Source – Gigonomy

According to a new study, unique biological, social, and psychological components can predict mental diseases with 90% accuracy. Mental health providers may be more positioned to give preventative treatment and intervention if they consider temperament, trauma, and dopamine.


Medically reviewed by Dr K on 22nd June 2022. 

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  1. The Research 
  2. Intervention and Prevention
  3. What Does This Mean for You?

Experts Determine Three Key Factors To Mental Illness And Early Interventions

Determining the roots of mental diseases is a difficult task. We still don’t understand so many parts of the brain and its functioning, but as we explore the components of our mental health, we’re painstakingly fitting together the picture.

According to recent research on mental diseases, the start of certain of these conditions can be predicted with 90% accuracy by concentrating on temperament, early adversity, and dopamine. A combination of those three elements may result in a wide range of conditions such as depression, anxiety, addiction, ADHD, bulimia, and dyslexia.

These features represented some of the best-supported risk factors thought to influence multiple mental health problems. Our study is unique because we had the unprecedented opportunity to study all three factors together, says Marco Leyton, PhD.

Source - Harvard Business Review

The Research 

New research from McGill University tracked 52 individuals from birth, gathering data on temperament, early life experience, and brain imaging scans. This enabled researchers to concentrate on three key biological, psychological, and social aspects at the same time.

Early life adversity, such as physical or emotional abuse or neglect, sexual abuse, or other forms of trauma all through childhood; the brain’s dopamine autoreceptors, or variability in responses to rewards and punishments; and adolescent externalising traits, such as impulsivity, altered responses to rewards and punishments, and difficulty regulating strong emotions, were among those factors.

These features represented some of the best-supported risk factors thought to influence multiple mental health problems," says the study’s senior author Marco Leyton, PhD in an interview with Verywell. “Our study is unique because we had the unprecedented opportunity to study all three factors together.

The results, published in Neuropsychopharmacology, found that these three characteristics predicted a broad range of mental problems reported by individuals in the past or during the study’s three-year follow-up period with more than 90% accuracy.

According to Leyton, the prevailing approach has worked for decades as though there are many distinct disorders, each with its own distinct source.

Despite this, it has become clear that many disorders commonly occur together," Leyton says. “If you meet criteria for one mental health problem, both you and your family members can be at risk for multiple disorders.

This finding suggests that many diseases may have common causes.

Intervention and Prevention

Gail Saltz, MD, associate professor of psychiatry at New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of Medicine and broadcaster of the podcast “How Can I Help?" told Verywell, the research supports established factors for predicting psychiatric disorders rather than providing new or unexpected information.

According to Saltz, early childhood trauma is a risk factor for several mental conditions, and aggressiveness is often a sign of psychiatric illness, whereas dopamine is the neurotransmitter implicated in many disorders. It stands to reason that a combination of these risk factors might increase an individual’s risk. However, detecting this early in a person’s life might be very useful.

Previous research on establishing predictive algorithms for mental health issues has also prompted ethical debate. Do individuals truly want to know their risk level? What are the possible negative consequences of data sharing, early detection, and treatment? Regardless, preliminary data indicates that there are people who believe predictive research is helpful and would participate in studies.

The benefits may outweigh the drawbacks. Most significantly, this level of prediction would allow for preventative treatment and early intervention.

Both of these are known to decrease the impact of the illness on the person’s functionality in their lives as well as shorten the course of or even prevent numbers of relapses," Saltz adds.

It may also affect practitioners’ choices on how to provide care.

Mental health professionals can recommend that those with early life trauma and externalizing behaviours get an early evaluation and be taught coping skills," Saltz added. “It is possible to have earlier treatment interventions which can definitely change the course of illness.

While the findings of this study must be repeated in a bigger and more ethnically varied sample, they may open up new avenues for research into the origins of mental diseases.

What Does This Mean for You?

Biology, lived experience, and behavioural inclinations all have a part in your mental health, and some of these factors are absolutely beyond your control. Getting to know oneself with the assistance of a professional may assist you in better understanding what risk factors exist along your mental health path.

Sources

  1. https://www.verywellmind.com/three-key-factors-determine-mental-illness-5212882
  2. Iqbal M, Cox S, Jaworska N et al. A three-factor model of common early onset psychiatric disorders: temperament, adversity, and dopamine. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2021. doi:10.1038/s41386-021-01187-z
  3. Lawrie S, Fletcher-Watson S, Whalley H, McIntosh A. Predicting major mental illness: ethical and practical considerations. BJPsych Open. 2019;5(2). doi:10.1192/bjo.2019.11

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