Arts & Sciences School of Medicine

Persistent, distressing psychotic-like experiences associated with impairment in youth

New research from the lab of Deanna Barch suggests there is value in early intervention for all children with persistent, distressing psychotic-like experiences. (Image: Shutterstock)

In a new study from the lab of Deanna Barch, PhD, professor and chair of psychological and brain sciences in Arts & Sciences, and the Gregory B. Couch Professor of Psychiatry and of radiology at the School of Medicine, all at Washington University in St. Louis, researchers examined the association between distressing and persistent psychotic-like experiences (PLEs) in youth and important risk factors for psychopathology.

Headshot of Deanna Barch

Using longitudinal data, the researchers found that youth who indicate they have persistent, distressing PLEs show impairment in a variety of areas such as cognition and reported psychopathology, highlighting the long-term challenges these children may face and the need for early intervention and support. The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), appears in Molecular Psychiatry.

“These novel longitudinal data underscore that it is often only in the context of distress that persistent PLEs are related to impairments,” said lead author Nicole Karcher, PhD, instructor in psychiatry at the School of Medicine.

“Although we know some children have psychotic-like experiences, it has remained unclear which will go on to develop psychotic disorders later in life,” said Shelli Avenevoli, PhD, deputy director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and an author on the study. “This study shows that children who have persistent, distressing psychotic-like experiences face significant challenges during development, suggesting the value of early intervention for all children with these experiences, regardless of whether they go on to develop psychotic disorders.”

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