Joyce Chen ‘23
As humans, we are able to distinguish between what is real and what is not. But sometimes, the lines between reality and fantasy can get blurred. Psychosis is a mental condition where an individual loses his or her sense of perception due to an impairment in thought, resulting in a loss of connection with reality. Untreated psychosis has been theorized to be extremely harmful to the individual, as it is seen as a more severe case of schizophrenia. This can lead to excessive neurological or psychological damage in which the
To test the duration of untreated psychosis (DUP), Stony Brook University professor Katherine G. Jonas and her team of researchers studied a longitudinal experiment conducted on over 200 participants diagnosed with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. The data was saved by the Suffolk County Mental Health Project, ranging from the year 1989 to 1995. All subjects were aged between 15 and 60, spoke English fluently, had IQs above 70, and all had psychosis. They were to be interviewed at periods of 6 months, 24 months, 48 months, 10 years, and 20 years. During the experiment at 6 months, the subjects were assessed a Premorbid Adjustment Scale (PAS), a 7-point scale of ratings that measured the subjects and their parents’ responses to sociability, relationships, academics, and adaptation. At 24 months, the DUPs of the participants were measured, and revealed a wide set of data that ranged from zero days to 24 years. After the experiment was finalized, results revealed that the PAS ratings may have developed prior to the occurence of any disease for the subjects with shorter DUP. Furthermore, a longer DUP correlated with an increased amount of declines in sociability between childhood and when the subject was admitted for the study. That being said, the data in the follow-up period showed that a shorter DUP was related to an even larger decrease in social interactions; therefore, people with a short DUP are in an earlier stage than people with longer DUP.
As a result, individuals with schizophrenia with a lack in assistance and intervention would relapse and return to their original conditions of psychosis. Even with the proper medication, patients’ conditions will not improve unless they undergo long-term care and supervision. With the findings of this research, in the future, medical professionals will be able to rightfully guide their patients towards improvement and an overall better quality of life.
 J. Katherine, et al., Lead-time bias confounds association between duration of untreated psychosis and illness course in schizophrenia. The American Journal of Psychiatry, (2020). doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2019.19030324
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