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Psychosis prevalence in Huntington's Disease higher than once thought

Psychosis is an abnormal condition of the mind that results in difficulties determining what is real and what is not. Symptoms may include false beliefs (delusions) and seeing or hearing things that others do not see or hear (hallucinations).

Previously thought to be rare in HD, it was estimated that between 3-11% of those suffering with HD experienced psychosis.

However, armed with data from the Enroll-HD study, a research team were able to determine the prevalence, onset, and severity of psychosis in Huntington’s Disease and to determine demographic and disease characteristics associated with psychosis.

The results, published by Tremor and Other Hyperkinetic Movements are as follows:

7,966 manifest Huntington’s Disease participants were analyzed, and 12.95% had a history of psychosis. Mean age of psychosis onset (48.34 years, SD 13.26) mirrored Huntington’s Disease onset. Family history of psychosis in a first degree relative was documented in 23.6% of participants with psychosis. Variables significantly (p < 0.05) associated with presence of psychosis in manifest HD included lower education level, unemployment, single marital status, depression, decreased verbal fluency score, and decreased total functional capacity & functional assessment score.
Discussion: Psychosis in Huntington’s Disease is more prevalent than many prior studies have reported. It is associated with several demographic & psychiatric features, decreased cognitive capacity, and worse functional outcomes.
Highlights: Psychosis in HD is more prevalent than prior studies have reported. It is associated with a range of demographic and psychiatric variables, worse cognition, and worse functional outcomes suggesting several features that may be used to predict onset of psychosis and improve understanding and management of psychosis in HD.

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