Scientists say that the risk factors associated with mental disorders beyond the genetic determinants are environmental factors and an international team of scientists has identified them and reflected them in a complete “atlas” that describes each one. from them.
They have shown through their study that diabetes, depression or social isolation are risk factors for dementia; that being overweight before and during pregnancy is associated with autism spectrum and attention deficit disorders; that depression is related to widowhood, sexual dysfunction or having suffered abuse in childhood; or that there is only one solid protective factor against Alzheimer’s: physical exercise.
Researchers from numerous institutions and research centers from various countries have worked on this “atlas” and have published their conclusions in the journal “World Psychiatry” coinciding with the celebration, on October 10, of World Mental Health Day, which this year was commemorated with the motto “A necessary right; tomorrow it can be you .”
Researcher Celso Arango, head of the group at the Mental Health Network Research Center (Cibersam) at the Institute of Psychiatry and Mental Health of the General Hospital Gregorio Marañón in Madrid, has underlined the importance of having a “point of reference” for advance clinical characterization and research in order to promote early intervention and preventive strategies for mental disorders.
In a note released over the weekend, Cibersam recalled that all mental disorders have an important genetic load, but also highlighted the importance of environmental factors.
Researchers have focused their work on these risk factors and have applied a classification based on the credibility that they have obtained from scientific evidence: from those they consider “convincing” to those that seem “suggestive” or “weak”. .
The atlas includes, as risk factors for dementia , type 2 diabetes mellitus, depression and low frequency of social contacts; And for opioid use disorders, the strongest risk factor has been smoking.
For psychotic disorders , the strongest risk factors have been high-risk clinical status for psychosis, cannabis use, and childhood adversities.
Regarding depression , an association is established with widowhood, sexual dysfunction, metabolic factors, mental and sexual abuse in childhood, work stress, obesity and sleep disorders.
For autism spectrum disorder , the most important risk factor they have described is maternal overweight before or during pregnancy and for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), it was maternal obesity before pregnancy, maternal smoking and being overweight before or during pregnancy.
” Association does not mean causation, so more live newborn cohort studies are needed to study risk factors before mental disorders appear,” said researcher Celso Arango.
To draw up this “atlas” the researchers have retrieved fourteen reviews with a total of 390 meta-analyzes already carried out and a total of 1,180 associations between risk factors and mental disorders.