Trauma does not negatively impact cognition in schizophrenia

A history of trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is not associated with poorer cognitive functioning in patients with schizophrenia, researchers report.

However, the team found that PTSD was associated with significantly higher levels of depression in schizophrenia patients.

"The increase in current depression in SZ [schizophrenia] with comorbid traumatization suggests that more severe psychopathology is associated with traumatization," say Dawn Peleikis (Oslo University Hospital, Norway) and team.

The team used a comprehensive neuropsychological test battery to assess cognition in 75 schizophrenia patients with and 217 schizophrenia patients without traumatization. Of the patients with trauma exposure, 21 (7%) fulfilled criteria for PTSD. The three groups were similar in terms of age and education levels.

The participants were also assessed for psychopathology using the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) and the Calgary Depression Scale for Schizophrenia (CDSS), and for functioning using the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) Scale.

The researchers found that there were no significant differences amongst the three groups regarding IQ, verbal memory, attention, working memory, psychomotor speed, or executive functioning.

The three groups were also comparable in terms of GAF scores.

However, patients with PTSD had significantly higher mean CDSS scores than the other patients with trauma and those without trauma, at 7.4 versus 4.1 and 4.0, respectively.

"The main finding of the current study was no significant differences in cognitive functioning between schizophrenia spectrum disorder patients with trauma, PTSD, or no trauma, but clear psychopathological differences," write Peleikis et al in Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica.

They conclude: "The findings did not support the hypothesis that the presence of comorbid PTSD/traumatization in schizophrenia is associated with increased cognitive impairment."

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