About this Research Topic
A "transition phase" refers to both the time of passing from one age of life to another one as well as the underlying psychological development processes. Transition phases are life span segments that can be considered as critical junctions in the course of psychopathology and mental health. The three major developmental transition phases are from pregnancy to early childhood, from childhood to adolescence, and from adolescence to adulthood. Each of these phases represent periods of enormous change, opportunity, vulnerability, and resilience as well as strong person-context interactions. More specifically, transition phases represent a critical junction for individual psychological continuity and discontinuity in which psychological developmental pathways may turn into psychopathological ones. This is best illustrated by the adolescent phase, a time period in which the onset of roughly half of all mental disorders occur. Furthermore, multiple and complex psychological, environmental (including traumatic), psychosocial, and biological risk factors are present during transition phases. In this sense, developmental transition phases are critical psychological and psychopathological transitions that therefore represent challenges for prevention and treatment of psychiatric disorders.
Mental health disorders during the perinatal period appear to be common with almost one in five women experiencing psychopathological disorders in pregnancy or postpartum. The mother's attachment style, current and past mental health, traumatic experiences or losses, personal history with family of origin and her current partner relation, and her attachment style can negatively influence the perinatal transition (including pregnancy) as well as childhood and adolescence in her offspring. Recent advances have demonstrated that maternal psychopathology, such as depression or anxiety disorders, also carries with it a transgenerational transmission risk in offspring for neurodevelopmental disorders (including Autism Spectrum Disorders) and common psychiatric disorders in childhood, adolescence and adulthood. There are many proposed mechanisms involved, including inflammation, neuroimmune changes associated with maternal stress (including depression), disturbed mother-fetal and baby attachment relationship resulting in epigenetic modifications during neurodevelopment in childhood. Such modifications can impact children’s emotional reactivity, social attention and cognition, and thereby result in pathological behaviors in response to social stress. It is important to note that these changes can then impact psychopathology during future transition phases, especially those from childhood to adolescence and from adolescence to adulthood.
The exploration of boundaries between normal and abnormal development in the adolescence transition phase is an important opportunity to understand the adulthood psychopathology. In most cases, the psychopathological onset is preceded by prodromal phases during which the subject can experience conditions of social withdrawal and loneliness, rearrangement of familiar meanings, loss of self-esteem, alterations in body perception, sleep disturbance, use and abuse of drugs and other behavioral addiction (including gaming and internet), aberrant self-experiences, emotional dysregulation and abnormal eating patterns. The evolution of these clinical pictures in adolescence is typically not homotypic and very frequently presents many psychiatric comorbidities. In this regard, the concept of transdiagnostic psychopathological risk was recently introduced. The combination of psychosocial risk factors (social determinants of mental health), genetic vulnerability, and neurodevelopmental alterations represents the substrate on which the main psychiatric disorders that persist in adulthood occur.
The aim of this Research Topic is to collect the most up-to-date and advanced research on life transition phases and related psychopathological risks, giving particular attention to the perinatal and adolescent periods.
In particular, we strongly encourage submission to this Research Topic concerning:
1. Transdiagnostic psychopathological risk in adolescence.
2. Transgenerational psychopathological risk in the perinatal period.
3. Psychopathological risk in the transition phases.
Keywords: Transition Phase, Developmental Psychopathology, Transgenerational Risk, Resilience, Vulnerability
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