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Symptom and Risk Label Effect on At-Risk Patients

Where shame stems from makes a difference

Those at high risk to experience a psychotic episode are affected by both symptoms and the label “clinical high-risk” itself, according to a study of 38 individuals.

The subjects were selected using standard measures from the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Labeling-related measures adapted to the clinically high-risk group included “stereotype awareness and self stigma”, as well as “negative emotions.” Investigators looked at the these measures as they related to symptoms of anxiety and depression.

They found that clinically high-risk patients were aware of mental illness stereotypes, but they did not agree with them. Patients also reported more stigma tied to symptoms than the risk-label. Those whose shame was the result of symptoms were more likely to suffer from depression, whereas those whose shame stemmed from the risk label tended to experience anxiety.

Researchers concluded that treating symptoms might provide a major benefit, given the likelihood that they lead to depression.

Citation: Yang L, Link B, Ben-David S, et al. Stigma related to labels and symptoms in individuals at clinical high-risk for psychosis. Schizophr Res. 2015; Published online Aug 24, 2015. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.schres.2015.08.004.