Date: 18 Feb 2011

An epidemiologic and clinical overview of medical and psychopathological comorbidities in major psychoses

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Abstract

The presence of comorbidity in major psychoses (e.g., schizophrenia and psychotic subtypes of bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder) seems to be the rule rather than the exception in both DSM-IV and ICD-10. Examining comorbidity in major psychoses, however, requires an investigation into the different levels of comorbidity (either full-blown and subsyndromal) which should be analyzed in both psychopathological and medical fields. On one hand, the high prevalence of psychiatric comorbidity in major psychoses may be the result of the current nosographic systems. On the other hand, it may stem from a common neurobiological substrate. In fact, comorbid psychopathological conditions may share a biological vulnerability, given that dysfunction in specific brain areas may be responsible for different symptoms and syndromes. The high rates of comorbidity in major psychoses require targeted pharmacological treatments in order to effectively act on both the primary diagnosis and comorbid conditions. Nevertheless, few controlled trials in comorbid major psychoses had been carried out and treatment recommendations in this field have mostly an empirical basis. The aim of the present article is to provide a comprehensive and updated overview in relation to epidemiological and clinical issues of comorbidity in major psychoses.