Dynamic symptom networks across different at-risk stages for psychosis: An individual and transdiagnostic perspective

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The clinical staging model distinguishes different stages of mental illness. Early stages, are suggested to be more mild, diffuse and volatile in terms of expression of psychopathology than later stages. This study aimed to compare individual transdiagnostic symptom networks based on intensive longitudinal data between individuals in different early clinical stages for psychosis. It was hypothesized that with increasing clinical stage (i) density of symptom networks would increase and (ii) psychotic experiences would be more central in the symptom networks. Data came from a 90-day diary study, resulting in 8640 observations within N = 96 individuals, divided over four subgroups representing different early clinical stages (n1 = 25, n2 = 27, n3 = 24, n4 = 20). Sparse Time Series Chain Graphical Models were used to create individual contemporaneous and temporal symptom networks based on 10 items concerning symptoms of depression, anxiety, psychosis, non-specific and vulnerability domains. Network density and symptom centrality (strength) were calculated individually and compared between and within the four subgroups. Level of psychopathology increased with clinical stage. The symptom networks showed large between-individual variation, but neither network density not psychotic symptom strength differed between the subgroups in the contemporaneous (pdensity = 0.59, pstrength > 0.51) and temporal (pdensity = 0.75, pstrength > 0.35) networks. No support was found for our hypothesis that higher clinical stage comes with higher symptom network density or a more central role for psychotic symptoms. Based on the high inter-individual variability, our results highlight the importance of individualized assessment of symptom networks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-102
Number of pages8
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Early online date3-Dec-2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan-2022


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