Impact of distress related to attenuated psychotic symptoms in individuals at ultra high risk of psychosis: Findings from the Longitudinal Youth at Risk Study

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Recent studies have highlighted that attenuated psychotic symptoms (APS) are an important source of distress in ultra high risk (UHR) individuals and that this distress is related to transition to psychosis (TTP). This study examined distress associated with APS in UHR individuals and investigated its association with TTP.


The Comprehensive Assessment of At-Risk Mental State (CAARMS) was used to identify 173 UHR individuals, who were included as participants in the study. Distress related to APS was self-reported. Functioning was assessed on the Social and Occupational Functioning Assessment Scale. Associations between each of the 4 APS subscales in the CAARMS—non-bizarre ideas (NBI), perceptual abnormalities (PA), unusual thought content (UTC) and disorganized speech (DS)—with its distress level were examined.


Of the 173 UHR participants, 154 (89%) reported distress related to one or more APS. NBI was rated to be the most distressing out of the 4 APS by the highest number of participants (32.9%) compared to UTC (12.1%), PA (24.9%) and DS (2.9%). Mean distress scores were significantly associated with CAARMS composite scores (P < .001). However, there was no significant relationship between distress scores and functioning. Both mean distress scores (OR = 1.034, P = .029) and functioning (OR = 0.892, P = .022) were significant predictors of transition to psychosis at 1 year of follow-up.


This study provides additional evidence to link subjective distress experienced by UHR individuals to APS and to their subsequent clinical outcomes and has significant clinical implications.

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