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Primary care physicians missing signs of mental illness

Published: 22 Mar 2013

Primary care providers could help people with warning signs of psychosis get critical early treatment and potentially reduce the current burden on emergency departments and inpatient units, finds a study in the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. However, these providers may need to be trained to recognize the early symptoms of psychosis. According to the study authors, these symptoms, which include depressed mood, anxiety, sleep disturbance, social withdrawal, odd behavior, suspiciousness, deterioration in functioning, and irritability, may lead people or their family members to seek help before they reach the level of full psychosis. Furthermore, previous research has shown that delays in treatment for a first episode of psychosis are associated with poor outcomes. The team from McGill University evaluated administrative data from health and social services providers to identify first-time diagnosis of schizophrenia or spectrum psychosis in people age 14 to 25 in Montreal. They then looked to see whether those people had contact with health services for a mental health reason in the four years before their first diagnosis. (Anderson K.K., Fuhrer R., Wynant W., et al.: Patterns of health services use prior to a first diagnosis of psychosis: The importance of primary care. Soc. Psychiatr. Epidemiol. Published online, 21 Feb 2013.)

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