Research has identified a characteristic pattern of brain activity, the “neuropsychopathological factor” (NP factor), that could help explain why people are often affected by more than one mental health disorder. Problems with the brain’s ability to prune itself of unnecessary connections may underlie a wide range of mental health disorders that begin during adolescence, including depression, anxiety and ADHD. The NP factor was largely apparent in the frontal lobes, and individuals who carried a particular variant of the IGSF11 gene had the strongest NP factor. The discovery of the NP factor could help identify those young people at greatest risk of compounding mental health problems and may facilitate earlier interventions to reduce the risk. While this research provides insights into mental health disorders, more work and research are needed to fully understand the complexities of the human brain and the disorders that may affect it.
Dr Oliver James Anderson, MD, Cure of Mind