Background: Along with the key clinical features of major psychiatric disorders such as psychosis, mania, and depression, these disorders are also associated with cognitive, social, and functional deficits. A growing body of evidence suggests that these disorders exist at the extreme end of a continuum of symptoms rather than as binary entities, so it is plausible that the associated cognitive, social, and functional deficits assume a similar pattern. Consistent with this approach, we sought to determine whether adults in the general population with psychiatric symptoms also demonstrate milder forms of the cognitive, social, and functional deficits that are often associated with the psychiatric disorders. Methods: Using data from the Study of Resilience and Environmental Adversity in Midlife Health (STREAM), which includes survey responses of 811 individuals, we compared early academic achievement and self-reported social and functional outcomes between respondents who reported psychotic symptoms, manic symptoms, depressive symptoms, or no psychiatric symptoms (controls). Results: Adults with psychotic symptoms had significantly poorer early academic performance (p =.04) and social and functional outcomes (self-reported marital status, p =.021, income, p =.001, and health, p <.001) than controls. Adults with depressive symptoms had significantly lower early academic performance and income and poorer health than controls (p's = 0.033, 0.037, 0.013 respectively), and adults with manic symptoms also reported significantly lower rates of marriage than controls (p =.006). Conclusions: The results are consistent with the continuum view of the etiology of psychiatric disorders in which psychiatric disorders are dimensional and experienced in varying degrees of severity across the general and clinical population. Importantly, the results highlight the potential impact of psychiatric symptomatology on functional outcomes in the population.
- Cognitive functioning
- Social functioning