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Childhood trauma behind schizophrenia, hallucinations among elders, reveals study

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Researchers have shown that childhood sexual, physical and emotional abuse are associated with severe hallucinations in schizophrenia.

The joint study by several research institutes found that hallucinations in schizophrenia were linked with childhood trauma, said Sarah Bendall, the lead author.

The study has analyzed 29 studies on childhood trauma and psychotic symptoms and found that childhood sexual abuse is often associated with delusions, seen among patients with schizophrenia.

“This means there’s something about childhood trauma that leads some people to develop hallucinations,” Bendall said. The symptoms include unrealistic attitude, unemotional attitude, hallucinations, delusions, disorganised thinking, and lack of motivation.

The study was jointly conducted by Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence for Youth Mental Health; the University of Melbourne; Port Phillip Prison and University Hospital of Gran Canaria Dr Negrin, Spain.

Bendall said many patients fail to provide this evidence during the treatment, thus missing the key link. It was found that one in every 100 people will experience a psychotic disorder in their lives, majority of them facing it during 18-25 years.

“When young people come to youth mental health services, we should be assessing for trauma and for emerging psychotic symptoms, and treating them as soon as they emerge,” Dr Bendall said. “It’s a very empowering thing to be able to give people that information.”

The study was published in the journal Schizophrenia Bulletin.

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