UCD study finds new cause for psychotic-like experiences in youths

A paper published recently by the UCD Youth Mental Health Laboratory found that there is a strong link between “personal resources” and psychotic-like experiences in adolescents. Personal resources are defined by the study as “self-esteem, optimism, competence and good coping skills.” According to the research they can have a stronger effect on certain people in creating hallucinations than substances such as cannabis.Dr. Louise Dolphin, a researcher with the laboratory spoke to the University Observer. She explains that psychotic-like experiences are episodes which can include “auditory hallucinations, visual hallucinations and paranoid thoughts.” The study focuses on instances where these can sometimes occur in the absence of psychotic disorder.Dolphin notes that there had previously been a gap in the research around this topic. “A lot of the literature had focused on substance use and particularly cannabis use in hallucinations. They are related but somewhat weakly, and they’re not a key group of predictors.” This paper instead looks at other factors such as gender, school cycle and a young person’s situation at home. It found that elements such as these can have a greater impact on causing these experiences.Dolphin also gave a number of reasons as to why the research is important. She explains that people who experience these psychotic-like episodes can be more likely to develop other mental health issues such as depression. Study in this area is important, according to Dolphin, because these episodes can be distressing to young people.The Youth Mental Health Laboratory was established two years ago by faculty members of the UCD School of Psychology. The lab has thirteen researchers attached to it and a number of studies into youth mental health are ongoing.Dolphin states that she hopes the publication of this paper may have a filter down to impact on how interventions are held. She claims that the study could highlight “modifiable resources,” that can be used to focus interventions. The personal resource area such as “self-esteem, life satisfaction and coping skills, are key across the board with mental health.” Dolphin hopes that this could lead to a lowering in the distress levels that can be associated with the psychotic-like experiences.More information on the lab can be found here.