Psychotic Episodes Experienced By About 6% of Population

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Nearly 6% of the general population will have a psychotic experience (PE) in their lifetime, such as hallucinations or delusions, based on an analysis of data from a large, global mental health survey.

John J. McGrath, PhD, MD, of the University of Queensland, Australia, and colleagues looked at data from the World Health Organization’s World Mental Health surveys to examine epidemiological information about PEs. Data came from 18 countries across the world, and included more than 31,000 adults who were asked about the prevalence and frequency of PEs.

Lifetime prevalence of ever having a PE was 5.8% amongst the respondents, the researchers reported in JAMA Psychiatry. Hallucinatory experiences (5.2%) were seen more frequently than delusional experiences (1.3%).

However, of those who had experienced a PE, the vast majority experienced them relatively infrequently. Just 32.2% of them reported only one occurrence and 31.8% said they had between two and five occurrences in their lifetimes.

The researchers also found a relationship between having more than one type of PE and having more frequent PE episodes overall. More women than men experienced PEs (6.6% vs. 5%). In addition, respondents in middle- and high-income countries had more PEs (7.2% and 6.8%, respectively) than those in low-income countries (3.2%).

“Research is needed that focuses on similarities and differences in the predictors of the onset, course, and consequences of distinct PEs,” the researchers concluded.

Psychotic Episodes Experienced By About 6% of Population
Psychotic Episodes Experienced By About 6% of Population

Psychotic experiences were infrequent in the general population, with an average lifetime prevalence of ever having such an episode estimated at 5.8%, according to an article published online by JAMA Psychiatry.

Interest in the epidemiologic landscape of hallucinations and delusions has grown because these psychotic experiences (PEs) are reported by a sizable minority of the population. Some have called for more fine-grained analyses of PEs to guide the field.

Researcher John J. McGrath, PhD, MD, of the University of Queensland, Australia, and coauthors examined data collected in the World Health Organization World Mental Health surveys to explore detailed epidemiologic information about PEs. The data came from 18 countries across North and South America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, the South Pacific and Europe. Respondents included 31,261 adults who were asked about the prevalence and frequency of PEs (two hallucinatory experiences and four delusional experiences).

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