Summary: Elevated levels of inhibited temperament in childhood may reflect a vulnerability for developing schizophrenia.
Source: Vanderbilt University
Detecting and treating schizophrenia early, perhaps even before symptoms arise, could lead to better therapeutic outcomes. Studies have demonstrated differences in social function and cognition among people who later develop symptoms of schizophrenia, but less is known about pre-morbid temperament and personality.
Jennifer Blackford, PhD, Brandee Feola, PhD, and colleagues studied inhibited temperament — a tendency to respond to novelty with wariness, fear or caution — in patients with schizophrenia compared to healthy controls.
Using self-reported measures of childhood inhibited temperament, clinical symptoms and quality of life, they found that patients had higher levels of inhibited temperament compared to controls. Inhibited temperament was associated with mood and anxiety symptoms and lower quality of life, but it was not associated with psychosis symptoms.
The investigators report in Psychiatry Research that inhibited temperament may be a pre-morbid risk factor for schizophrenia that could be targeted for preventative interventions. They also suggest that patients with schizophrenia and inhibited temperament may benefit from adjunctive treatments for anxiety and depression.
Funding: This research was supported by the Charlotte and Donald Test Fund, the Jack Martin MD Research Professorship in Psychopharmacology, the Vanderbilt Psychiatric Genotype/Phenotype Project, and grants from the National Institutes of Health (MH070560, MH102266, TR000445).
About this neuroscience research article
Source: Vanderbilt University Media Contacts: Leigh MacMillan – Vanderbilt University Image Source: The image is in the public domain.
Childhood temperament is associated with distress, anxiety and reduced quality of life in schizophrenia spectrum disorders
Schizophrenia is conceptualized as a neurodevelopmental disorder and pre-morbid differences in social function and cognition have been well-established. Less is known about pre-morbid temperament and personality. Inhibited temperament—the predisposition to respond to novelty with wariness, fear, or caution—is a premorbid risk factor for anxiety, depression, and substance use but is understudied in schizophrenia. Participants were patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders (n = 166) and healthy controls (n = 180). Patients completed measures of childhood inhibited temperament, clinical symptoms (anxiety, depression, PANSS factors), and quality of life. Patients had significantly higher levels of inhibited temperament relative to healthy controls. In patients with schizophrenia, higher inhibited temperament was significantly associated with co-morbid anxiety disorders, greater anxiety and depression symptoms, higher PANSS Distress scores, lower PANSS Excitement scores, and lower quality of life. The current findings replicate and extend previous research with a larger sample and are consistent with vulnerability in an affective path to psychosis. In schizophrenia, higher inhibited temperament was associated with a cluster of mood and anxiety symptoms. Inhibited temperament was not associated with psychosis symptoms. Patients with high inhibited temperament may especially benefit from treatments that specifically target anxiety and depression.