Nutrition may play a key role in early psychosis treatment

November 30, 2017, Western Sydney University

Early psychosis is associated with nutritional deficiencies, new research from Australia has found, potentially presenting new avenues for improving health among the millions of people affected worldwide.

International research led by NICM Health Research Institute at Western Sydney University systematically reviewed evidence examining in being treated for for the first time.

Early detection and treatment of psychotic , such as , is thought to be critical for maximising recovery.

Schizophrenia affects more than 21 million people worldwide and people with the disorder die 15 - 20 years earlier than the general population.

Previous research has shown a strong correlation between long-term schizophrenia and various nutritional deficiencies including vitamins B, C, D, and E. However, until now, no one has assessed the full range of nutritional deficiencies which may be present during the first episode of psychosis.

The researchers assessed 28 studies examining of six vitamins and 10 minerals across 2612 individuals.

All participants were assessed either immediately after presenting with psychotic disorders (such as schizophrenia) for the first time, prior to antipsychotic treatment, or within the early stages of treatment.

The research, published in the world's leading schizophrenia research journal, Schizophrenia Bulletin, found that early psychosis is associated with large deficits in blood levels of critical nutrients, with particularly low levels of vitamin B9 (folate) and vitamin D.

Furthermore, these nutritional deficiencies were found to be associated with worse mental health in young people with early psychosis.

Although the review found no significant differences for other vitamins and minerals, the researchers said that due to a small number of studies that examined these nutrients, they could not be ruled out and further study was needed to determine their importance.

Lead author, NICM postdoctoral research fellow Joseph Firth said these findings could ultimately contribute to nutritional interventions being added into standard treatment of early psychosis.

"Although just one of many factors, it is important to recognise that nutritional deficiencies could certainly be contributing to the poor physical and mental health outcomes often observed in young people with psychosis," Firth said.

"Our research has found D and folate deficiencies, previously observed in long-term schizophrenia, exist right from illness onset, and are associated with worse symptoms among young people with psychosis.

"Since both of these nutrients are vital for physical and psychological wellbeing, this finding emphasises the importance of promoting a healthy diet for with psychosis, and potentially suggests adding targeted nutritional supplementation to standard could improve recovery - although this theory has yet to be tested."

Senior author and deputy director at NICM, Professor Jerome Sarris says, "While the results of our data analysis reveal that nutrient deficiencies are endemic in people suffering from first-episode psychosis, further work is needed to determine whether this is a by-product of the disorder, an effect from psychiatric medications, or whether lifestyle factors are to blame."

Explore further: B vitamins reduce schizophrenia symptoms, study finds

More information: Nutritional Deficiencies and Clinical Correlates in First-Episode Psychosis: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis, Schizophrenia Bulletin (2017). DOI: 10.1093/schbul/sbx162

Related Stories

B vitamins reduce schizophrenia symptoms, study finds

February 16, 2017
A review of worldwide studies has found that add-on treatment with high-dose b-vitamins - including B6, B8 and B12 - can significantly reduce symptoms of schizophrenia more than standard treatments alone.

Research identifies brain chemical abnormalities in earliest stage of psychosis

October 11, 2017
A new study of young people experiencing a first episode of psychosis reports elevations in the brain chemicals glutamate and glycine. Published in Biological Psychiatry, the study led by Dr. Dost Öngür of Harvard Medical ...

Exercise helps young people with psychosis symptoms, study shows

March 14, 2016
An exercise programme devised by researchers at the University of Manchester has dramatically reduced symptoms among young people with first-episode psychosis.

First-episode psychosis and substance use

September 1, 2011
A literature review in the latest issue of Psychiatric Services indicates that after experiencing a first episode of psychosis, about half of those with substance use disorders become abstinent or significantly reduce their ...

'Middle England' faces lowest psychosis risk

October 24, 2016
The risk of developing a psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia is highest for young people, men, ethnic minorities and people living in urban areas and poorer neighbourhoods, finds a new study by UCL and the University ...

'Schizophrenia' does not exist, argues expert

February 2, 2016
The term "schizophrenia," with its connotation of hopeless chronic brain disease, should be dropped and replaced with something like "psychosis spectrum syndrome," argues a professor of psychiatry in The BMJ today.

Recommended for you

Early career choices appear to influence personality, study finds

December 10, 2018
In the state of Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany, 16-year-old students in middle-track schools decide whether to stay in school to pursue an academic career or enroll in a vocational training program. A new study offers evidence ...

Regular problem solving does not protect against mental decline

December 10, 2018
The well known 'use it or lose it' claim has been widely accepted by healthcare professionals, but researchers in the Christmas issue of The BMJ find that regularly doing problem solving activities throughout your lifetime ...

When scientists push people to their tipping point

December 10, 2018
You probably overestimate just how far someone can push you before you reach your tipping point, new research suggests.

Internet therapy apps reduce depression symptoms, study finds

December 7, 2018
In a sweeping new study, Indiana University psychologists have found that a series of self-guided, internet-based therapy platforms effectively reduce depression.

Gender bias sways how we perceive competence in faces

December 7, 2018
Faces that are seen as competent are also perceived as more masculine, according to research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Targeted cognitive training benefits patients with severe schizophrenia

December 7, 2018
Schizophrenia is among the most difficult mental illnesses to treat, in part because it is characterized by a wide range of dysfunction, from hallucinations and mood disorders to cognitive impairment, especially verbal and ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.