Can obsessions drive you mad? Longitudinal evidence that obsessive-compulsive symptoms worsen the outcome of early psychotic experiences

Frank Van Dael, J. van Os, R. de Graaf, M. ten Have, Lydia Krabbendam, I. Myin-Germeys*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

27 Citations (Web of Science)


Objective: Although there is substantial comorbidity between psychotic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), little is known about how these clinical phenotypes, and their subclinical extended phenotypes, covary and impact on each other over time. This study examined cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between both (extended) phenotypes in the general population. Method: Data were obtained from the three waves of the NEMESIS-study. A representative population sample of 7076 participants were assessed using the composite international diagnostic interview (CIDI) at baseline (T-0), 1 year later at T-1 and again 2 years later at T-2. Results: At T-0, a lifetime diagnosis of psychotic disorder was present in 1.5% of the entire sample, in 11.5% of the people with any OC symptom and in 23.0% of individuals diagnosed with OCD. OC symptoms at T-0 predicted incident psychotic symptoms at T-2. Similarly, T-0 psychotic symptoms predicted T-2 OC symptoms. The likelihood of persistence of psychotic symptoms or transition to psychotic disorder was higher if early psychosis was accompanied by co-occurring OC symptoms, but not the other way around. Conclusion: OCD and the psychosis phenotype cluster together and predict each other at (sub)clinical level. The co-occurrence of subclinical OC and psychosis may facilitate the formation of a more 'toxic' form of persistent psychosis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-146
JournalActa Psychiatrica Scandinavica
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011


  • psychosis
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • comorbidity
  • prevention

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