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Can we predict the direction of sudden shifts in symptoms? Transdiagnostic implications from a complex systems perspective on psychopathology

Wichers, M., Schreuder, M. J., Goekoop, R. & Groen, R. N., Feb-2019, In : Psychological Medicine. 49, 3, p. 380-387 8 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Recently, there has been renewed interest in the application of assumptions from complex systems theory in the field of psychopathology. One assumption, with high clinical relevance, is that sudden transitions in symptoms may be anticipated by rising instability in the system, which can be detected with early warning signals (EWS). Empirical studies support the idea that this principle also applies to the field of psychopathology. The current manuscript discusses whether assumptions from complex systems theory can additionally be informative with respect to the specific symptom dimension in which such a transition will occur (e.g. whether a transition towards anxious, depressive or manic symptoms is most likely). From a complex systems perspective, both EWS measured in single symptom dynamics and network symptom dynamics at large are hypothesized to provide clues regarding the direction of the transition. Challenging research designs are needed to provide empirical validation of these hypotheses. These designs should be able to follow sudden transitions 'live' using frequent observations of symptoms within individuals and apply a transdiagnostic approach to psychopathology. If the assumptions proposed are supported by empirical studies then this will signify a large improvement in the possibility for personalized estimations of the course of psychiatric symptoms. Such information can be extremely useful for early intervention strategies aimed at preventing specific psychiatric problems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)380-387
Number of pages8
JournalPsychological Medicine
Volume49
Issue number3
Early online date22-Aug-2018
Publication statusPublished - Feb-2019

    Keywords

  • MAJOR DEPRESSIVE DISORDER, CRITICAL SLOWING-DOWN, EARLY WARNING SIGNAL, LIFETIME PREVALENCE, COGNITIVE THERAPY, MENTAL-DISORDERS, STAGING MODEL, PSYCHOTHERAPY, COMORBIDITY, DYNAMICS

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