Each of these clusters represents statistically different groups of symptoms, with unique fingerprint combining different clinical presentation, neurocognitive markers, EEG activity and functional status. In addition to having different clinical characteristics, the 6 clusters differed notably:
- Anxious arousal: Poor daily functioning, greatest neurocognitive difficulty, especially impaired cognitive control.
- General anxiety: Higher EEG responses in the beta-bandwidth (usually associated with more higher brain activity) in parietal cortex, and intact daily function.
- Melancholia: Poorest daily function, especially socially.
- Anhedonia: Higher beta activity in the frontal cortex.
- Tension: Average performance across the boards in spite of high levels of stress.
How do these 6 clusters transdiagnostically relate to the conventional psychiatric diagnoses? This figure shows where the clusters overlap with the diagnoses we currently use:
Source: Grisanzio et al., 2018
Does psychiatric care have a brighter future?
While this research is useful for understanding underlying symptoms for common psychiatric conditions from a data-driven perspective, the implications of this early transdiagnostic study of adults open the door to further refinement in clinical application. Current diagnostic categories are blurry, overlapping with one another, and may not fully capture the best picture of what is going on for a given individual. With ongoing research to further confirm and expand upon the current findings, we may have a more accurate way of assessing mental health, which should be better for treatment planning.
Future studies will include additional diagnostic categories, and use assessment tools such as functional neuroimaging to gain more detailed knowledge, and tools for more accurate diagnosis. Combined with a greater understanding of mechanisms of disease, and research on assessment and treatment, we are beginning to see better tools, such as pharmacogenomic testing, TMS, novel drugs, and third-generation psychotherapeutics, among others. Eventually, we hope to be able to develop a biologically-based system for giving relief to people suffering from psychiatric illnesses, in terms of assessment, treatment, and especially for future generations, prevention.