Background Depression has been described in people presenting with first-episode schizophrenia, a group at high relative risk of suicide.
Method This was a longitudinal cohort study of 113 people during an acute relapse and 13 having a first episode. Follow-up occurred at three months and at one year. This report compares level of depression in the first episode and in the relapsing group. Levels of depression were assessed using the Calgary Depression Scale for Schizophrenia (CDSS).
Results The median CDSS score was statistically significantly higher in the first-episode group both during the acute phase and at three month follow-up. At one year the first-episode group continued to have higher levels of depression than the multiple episode group.
Conclusions For people with a first episode of schizophrenia, depression is a major problem during the initial acute phase and during the first year of illness. In light of the high risk of suicide in this population, recognition and treatment of depression requires greater attention.