Cognitive Problems in Childhood Could Trigger Mental Health Issues Later in Life

July 12, 2021 11:52:44

New research conducted by a group of scientists from Finland and the UK, led by a team from University of Birmingham, has found that children who experience cognitive difficulties such as a lack of inhibition, poor memory or low attention may suffer from mental health problems as young adults or teenagers.

On a global scale, mental disorders affect about 10% of adolescents and children, with researchers finding that 75% of the disorders diagnosed in adulthood usually begin during adolescence or childhood. For instance, disorders such as psychosis, depression and bipolar disorder often emerge during adolescence and continue into adulthood.

The researchers note in their study, which was reported in “JAMA Network Open,” that targeting certain markers in childhood for early treatment may assist in reducing the risk of the children developing psychopathological issues such as psychosis, depression and borderline personality disorder in their adult lives or during adolescence.

The study explains that cognitive deficits are key features of mental disorders and can help predict long-term prognosis.

For their study, the researchers examined data from a preliminary UK cohort made up of more than 13,000 individuals who had been born April 1991 through December 1992, which led to the discovery of associations between mental health problems in later life and childhood cognitive issues.

For instance, the researchers found that:

  • Memory deficits in 10-year-olds were linked to hypomania at ages 22 to 23
  • Shortfalls in attention in 8-year-olds paved the way for the development of depression at 17 or 18 years of age as well as borderline personality disorder symptoms at 11 and 12 years

Prior studies have provided evidence proposing a link between symptoms of childhood attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and adult borderline personality disorder, which implies that ADHD may be a risk factor for borderline personality disorder.

Dr. Isabel Morales-Muñoz from the Finnish Institute for Mental Health and the Mental Health Institute at the University of Birmingham stated that the study underlined the potential effect of childhood cognitive deficits on young individual’s mental health, proposing certain links with specific conditions. Morales- Muñoz, who was also the study’s lead author, then added that prevention strategies that centered on reducing these issues could help decrease the risk of the children developing associated mental health issues in early adulthood and during adolescence.

This research also backs the theory that difficulties with inhibition in childhood sets the scene for psychotic disorders like schizophrenia.

Steven Marwaha, Matthew R. Broome, Pavan K. Mallikarjun and Rachel Upthegrove were also members of the research team for this study.

It is of concern that childhood cognitive issues can develop into mental health problems later in life, but the silver lining in this cloud is many companies, including Cybin Inc. (NEO: CYBN) (OTCQB: CLXPF), are working to revolutionize the way in which mental health conditions are treated, which could bring lasting results to patients.

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