A longitudinal study on physiological stress in individuals at ultra high-risk of psychosis

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Introduction: Individuals at ultra high-risk (UHR) of psychosis exhibit significantly higher stress levels than healthy controls (HC). This study investigates how physiological stress measures differ between HC and UHR individuals and how physiological stress is associated with attenuated psychotic symptoms and changes over time in UHR individuals. Additionally, it examines how the use of medication affects physiological levels of stress. Method: The study included 72 UHR individuals and 36 HC. UHR were included according to the comprehensive assessment of at-risk mental state (CAARMS); a total-CAARMS score measured the attenuated psychotic symptoms and was calculated from the four psychosis subscales. HC and UHR were examined at baseline, and 47 UHR individuals were followed up after six months. Physiological stress measures were salivary cortisol, alpha-amylase (SAA) and heart-rate variability (HRV). Saliva was collected at four-time points during the day. Results: There was no significant difference regarding cortisol (awakening response) or SAA measures between HC and UHR individuals. The use of antipsychotics and antidepressants was associated with low HRV in UHR individuals. In an exploratory analysis of 19 UHR individuals, we found an association between the change in total-CAARMS (six months total-CAARMS minus baseline total CAARMS) and the change in HRV during sleep (six months HRV minus baseline HRV). Conclusion: Our findings indicate that the use of antipsychotics and antidepressants could be associated with lower HRV in UHR individuals. There might be potential to investigate how HRV develops during the course of illness in UHR individuals.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Pages (from-to)218-226
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023

    Research areas

  • Alpha-amylase, Clinical high-risk, Cortisol, Heart-rate variability, HRV, Stress, Ultra high-risk

ID: 345061791