Patients with an ‘At risk mental state’ (ARMS) for developing psychosis can be treated successfully with CBT to postpone and prevent the transition to a first psychotic episode. A characteristic of individuals that meet ARMS criteria is that they are still open for multiple explanations for extraordinary experiences. CBT aims to normalize extraordinary experiences with education and to prevent delusional explanations. The treatment is not only effective, but also cost-saving in averting psychosis as well as in reducing disability adjusted life years at 18- and 48-month follow-up. Profiling within the ARMS group results in a personalized treatment. The screening and early treatment for ARMS fulfills all the criteria of the World Health Organization and is ready to be routine screening and treatment in mental health care. At the same time, ARMS patients are complex patients with multi-morbid disorders. Especially childhood trauma is associated to ARMS status, together with co-morbid PTSD, depression, substance abuse and anxiety disorders. Psychotic symptoms appear to be severity markers in other non-psychotic disorders. Preventing psychosis in ARMS patients should be broadened to also address other disorders and aim to reduce chronicity of psychopathology and improve social functioning in general. Several mechanisms play a part in psychopathology in ARMS patients such as stress sensitivity as a result of adverse experiences, dopamine sensitivity that is associated with salience and aggravates several cognitive biases, dissociation mediating between trauma and hallucinations, and low self-esteem and self-stigma. New avenues to treat the complexity of ARMS patients will be proposed.
Bibliographical notePart of special issue: Cognitive Therapies for Schizophrenia.
- At risk mental state
- Cognitive behavioral therapy