Longer duration of active psychosis (presence of positive psychotic symptoms) has been associated to worsening of functional and symptomatic outcome in patients with a first-episode of psychosis. There could be a “critical period” of increased brain vulnerability in the early phases of the illness when the effect of active psychosis would be exceptionally pernicious.
We aim to explore the impact of lengthy periods of active psychosis during early phases of illness on long-term functional outcome.
This is a prospective clinical study. We assessed the effect of the duration active psychosis in patients with a first-episode of nonaffective psychosis on long-term social functioning and functional recovery. The study consisted of a 3-year clinical follow-up and a functional evaluation performed after a 10-year period.
The sample consisted of 169 patients with a first-episode of non-affective psychosis. The duration of active psychosis after treatment (DAT) during the 3-year clinical follow-up acted as predictor of social functioning at the 10-year functional evaluation (Wald: 10.705; p = .001), but not of functional recovery. The duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) did not act as a predictor of any of the two long-term measures of functional outcome.
Active psychosis in early phases of the illness seems to be correlated to worst long-term functionality. In this study the duration of active psychosis after treatment (DAT) was a better predictor of long-term outcome than the duration of untreated psychosis (DUP). Reducing DAT should be considered an important objective for early intervention programs.

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