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Epidemiol Psychiatr Sci. 2012 Mar;21(1):47-57.

Age of onset of mental disorders and use of mental health services: needs, opportunities and obstacles.

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  • 1IRCCS Fatebenefratelli, Via Pilastroni 4, 25125 Brescia, Italy. gdegirolamo@fatebenefratelli.it

Abstract

PURPOSE OF REVIEW:

In this review, we provide an update of recent studies on the age of onset (AOO) of the major mental disorders, with a special focus on the availability and use of services providing prevention and early intervention.

RECENT FINDINGS:

The studies reviewed here confirm previous reports on the AOO of the major mental disorders. Although the behaviour disorders and specific anxiety disorders emerge during childhood, most of the high-prevalence disorders (mood, anxiety and substance use) emerge during adolescence and early adulthood, as do the psychotic disorders. Early AOO has been shown to be associated with a longer duration of untreated illness, and poorer clinical and functional outcomes.

SUMMARY:

Although the onset of most mental disorders usually occurs during the first three decades of life, effective treatment is typically not initiated until a number of years later. There is increasing evidence that intervention during the early stages of disorder may help reduce the severity and/or the persistence of the initial or primary disorder, and prevent secondary disorders. However, additional research is needed on effective interventions in early-stage cases, as well as on the long-term effects of early intervention, and for an appropriate service design for those with emerging mental disorders. This will mean not only the strengthening and re-engineering of existing systems, but is also crucial the construction of new streams of care for young people in transition to adulthood.

Comment in

PMID:
22670412
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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