Syndromes of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, substance use disorders and Alzheimer's dementia are highly heritable. About 10-20% of subjects have another affected first degree relative (FDR), and thus represent a 'greater' genetic susceptibility. We screened 3583 families to identify 481 families with multiple affected members, assessed 1406 individuals in person, and collected information systematically about other relatives. Within the selected families, a third of all FDRs were affected with serious mental illness. Although similar diagnoses aggregated within families, 62% of the families also had members with other syndromes. Moreover, 15% of affected individuals met criteria for co-occurrence of two or more syndromes, across their lifetime. Using dimensional assessments, we detected a range of symptom clusters in both affected and unaffected individuals, and across diagnostic categories. Our findings suggest that in multiplex families, there is considerable heterogeneity of clinical syndromes, as well as sub-threshold symptoms. These families would help provide an opportunity for further research using both genetic analyses and biomarkers.
Keywords: Biomarkers; Genetics; Prevalence; Psychiatric disorders; Relatives; Transdiagnosis; cross-cutting symptoms.
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