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October 1, 2004

British Study on Psychosis and Bipolar Mania

A new study published in the October issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry suggests that more than one in 20 people have experienced psychotic symptoms such as paranoid thoughts or hallucinations, research revealed today.

A study of 8,580 people found that 5.5% had experienced one or more of the five psychotic symptoms measured, including feeling their thoughts were being interfered with or suffering strange experiences.

The researchers, from King's College London, found that psychotic symptoms were linked to drug and alcohol dependence, recent stressful life events and lower intellectual ability.

In terms of drug dependence, they concluded that the relationship between cannabis and psychotic symptoms was the strongest.

Researcher Dr Louise Johns, from the Institute of Psychiatry, said: "We looked at factors associated with these symptoms and it was cannabis dependence that was most linked to psychosis.

"What we don't know is the direction - whether cannabis dependence leads to psychosis or psychotic symptoms lead to cannabis use."

The study, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, said that psychosis was generally thought of as an "all-or-nothing" phenomenon, where people either had it or did not.

But the researchers said there was increasing evidence that psychosis exists in the population as a continuum rather than a categorical diagnosis.

Source: British Journal of Psychiatry

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