Biological and psychosocial risk factors for psychotic major depression

M. Heslin*, R. Desai, J. M. Lappin, K. Donoghue, B. Lomas, U. Reininghaus, A. Onyejiaka, T. Croudace, P. B. Jones, R. M. Murray, P. Fearon, G. A. Doody, P. Dazzan, H. L. Fisher, A. Demjaha, T. Craig, C. Morgan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Aims Few studies have investigated risk factors for psychotic major depression (PMD). We aimed to investigate the biological and psychosocial risk factors associated with PMD compared with other psychotic disorders. Methods Based on the aetiology and ethnicity in schizophrenia and other psychoses (A dagger SOP) study, we used a case-control study to identify and recruit, at baseline and 10-year follow-up, all first episode cases of psychosis, presenting for the first time to specialist mental health services in defined catchment areas in the UK. Population-based controls were recruited from the same areas. Data were collected on: sociodemographics; social isolation; childhood adversity; life events; minor physical anomalies; and neurological soft signs. Resutls Living alone (aOR = 2.26, CI = 1.21-4.23), basic level qualification (aOR = 2.89, CI = 1.08-7.74), being unemployed (aOR = 2.12, CI = 1.13-3.96), having contact with friends less than monthly (aOR = 4.24, CI = 1.62-11.14), having no close confidants (aOR = 4.71, CI = 2.08-10.68), having experienced childhood adversity (aOR = 2.57, CI = 1.02-6.44), family history of mental illness (aOR = 10.68, CI = 5.06-22.52), family history of psychosis (aOR = 12.85, CI = 5.24-31.51), and having more neurological soft signs (aOR = 1.15, CI = 1.07-1.24) were all associated with a follow-up diagnosis of PMD and schizophrenia. Few variables associated with PMD were also associated with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Minor physical anomalies were associated with a follow-up diagnosis of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, but not PMD. Conclusions Risk factors associated with PMD appear to overlap with those for schizophrenia, but less so for bipolar disorder. Future work on the differential aetiology of PMD, from other psychoses is needed to find the 'specifier' between PMD and other psychoses. Future research on aetiology in PMD, and perhaps other psychoses, should account for diagnostic change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-245
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016


  • Depression
  • Epidemiology
  • Psychosis
  • Risk factors

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