“Attenuated Psychotic Symptoms Syndrome” as a Risk Syndrome of Psychosis, Diagnosis in DSM-V: The Debate
Indian Journal of Psychiatry
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Schizophrenia is a common disorder, affecting approximately 1 out of every 100 people, with a typical onset during adolescence and early adulthood. The personal and societal costs of schizophrenia are extremely high. Prevention of schizophrenia, would offer substantial benefits to patients, their family members, and the community at large. The prodromal phase of schizophrenia has been recognized since the 19th century. At-risk individuals for psychosis and schizophrenia are the subjects who can provide information for intervention prior to development of frank psychosis. This approach is currently being investigated. The question remains, however, whether it can be a diagnostic category by itself. The proposal for including the risk syndrome is one of the recommendations by the working group on schizophrenia and psychotic disorders for the forthcoming DSM-V. There are differing views in academia regarding this proposal. Prior to becoming fully psychotic, a consistent literature demonstrates that patients generally had suffered from accelerating attenuated symptoms and distress. It is important that the prodromal phase be accurately recognized in order to accomplish the goal of prevention. We can then purposefully engage in early intervention aiming toward prevention. A recent strong resurgent interest in this area stems largely from two developments: First, the identification of the neurobiological deficit processes associated with the severity and chronicity of schizophrenia, and second, the development of reliable criteria for diagnosis. Although the general at-risk construct appears to offer great potential to advance both the treatment and research dealing with psychotic illnesses, it seems premature to many researchers to include the syndrome as an established entity in the text of the new DSM-V. It would be far more appropriate to include this proposed syndrome in the appendix and evaluate the many contemporary issues in future studies. The main issues involved in this discussion are the clinical validity of the syndrome, concern about stigma and unnecessary treatment, and need for responding to patients' distress in addition to the ethical dilemma. In this review we examine the issue of inclusion of the risk syndrome as a diagnosis.