The at-risk mental state (ARMS) for psychosis has long played a key role in diathesis-stress models of schizophrenia. More recent studies, however, have called for extending the boundaries of the ARMS construct beyond attenuated psychosis in nonhelp-seeking samples to include not only other vulnerability indicators but also protective factors related to genotype, mental health, personality, and cognition.
Accordingly, we assessed in a sample of 100 college students, the ARMS construct with the Brief Prodromal Questionnaire (PQ-B) for psychosis, in conjunction with measures of positive mental health, childhood adversity, psychiatric symptoms, personality traits, social cognition, and genetic variables derived from assays of the serotonin transporter (5-HTTLPR) and the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).
Higher PQ-B scores correlated positively with vulnerability indicators of childhood adversity and heightened levels of a wide variety of psychiatric symptoms but correlated negatively with protective factors of better overall mental health, social cognition as well as with a distinct NEO profile marked by reduced neuroticism and elevated agreeableness and conscientiousness. Multivariate analyses indicated that a composite ARMS measure comprised of PQ-B scores plus anxiety and depression symptoms revealed significant genotype differences, with lowest risk and highest resilience for allelic carriers of 5-HTTLPR-short and BDNF Met polymorphisms.
Results provided support for extending the ARMS construct, pointing to important contributions of personality, social cognition, and genes that support neural plasticity in mitigating vulnerability and enhancing resilience and well-being.

© 2021 The Authors. Brain and Behavior published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.