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Background. In the past it has been postulated that dysphoric emotions may be related to positive and/or negative symptoms in schizophrenia. The results of several recent studies have suggested that composite dysphoria indices are more strongly related to positive than negative symptoms. In the current study we use part correlation techniques to examine the possible unique contributions of two aspects of dysphoria – depression and anxiety – to three syndromes of symptoms (reality distortion, disorganization and psychomotor poverty) within schizophrenia.
Methods. Data were obtained from 60 patients with a DSM-III-R diagnosis of schizophrenia. Symptoms of schizophrenia were assessed using the SAPS and SANS and dysphoria was assessed using both self-report (BDI and BAI) and observer ratings (HRSD and HARS). Assessment of schizophrenia symptoms and ratings of depression and anxiety were completed by different observers. In addition, drug induced extrapyramidal side effects were rated.
Results. Part correlations showed that unique aspects of anxiety (particularly physiological arousal) were correlated with reality distortion while unique aspects of depression (including psychomotor slowing and loss of social interest) were related to psychomotor poverty. At least part of the latter relationship may be due to extrapyramidal side effects of neuroleptic medication.
Conclusions. Although there is considerable overlap between anxiety and depression, it appears that the unique arousing or activating aspects of anxiety are related to the experience of reality distortion symptoms in schizophrenia and the unique slowing and withdrawal aspects of depression are particularly related to psychomotor poverty. Possible reasons for these relationships are discussed.