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Sleep study predicts risk of mental illness

Patient undergoes sleep study
Patient undergoes sleep study
Photo by Jeff T. Green/Getty Images

Every day, articles and new research is published in the mental health field. Distinguishing the good from the bad can be very difficult. Sometimes an article comes along that piques interest, then falls flat in its assessment. Wading through the mire of scholarly and not so scholarly articles is time consuming, but can be exciting when new research is developed that looks promising.

One such article, 'Childhood nightmares may point to looming health issues’ published in BBC News Health, starts out promisingly and delivers a very important assessment. This is yet another study confirming the need for early intervention. Mental health professionals and parents of children with serious mental illness all recognize the need for early detection and intervention.

The more studies that are published linking different modalities to exposing ways to help those who may develop mental illness the better the treatments devised. As we move away from traditional behavioral identifiers to more sophisticated measures, such as the sleep study, we increase the amount of information about what is occuring in the brain. The more we learn about brain function in and out of consciousness, the better we will be able to develop new ways to combat mental illness.

While the link between nightmares and psychosis is still relatively unclear, the study shows that the experience of nightmares and night terrors identifies a raised risk of mental illness if it occurs over an unusually long span of age. Those who experienced them up to age 12 had a much higher risk of mental illness.

Here's to hoping we will continue to see progression to this type of study.