Studies involving clinically recruited samples show that genetic liability to schizophrenia overlaps with that for several psychiatric disorders including bipolar disorder, major depression and, in a population study, anxiety disorder and negative symptoms in adolescence.
We examined whether, at a population level, association between schizophrenia liability and anxiety disorders continues into adulthood, for specific anxiety disorders and as a group. We explored in an epidemiologically based cohort the nature of adult psychopathology sharing liability to schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia polygenic risk scores (PRSs) were calculated for 590 European-descent individuals from the Christchurch Health and Development Study. Logistic regression was used to examine associations between schizophrenia PRS and four anxiety disorders (social phobia, specific phobia, panic disorder and generalised anxiety disorder), schizophrenia/schizophreniform disorder, manic/hypomanic episode, alcohol dependence, major depression, and – using linear regression – total number of anxiety disorders. A novel population-level association with hypomania was tested in a UK birth cohort (Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children).
Schizophrenia PRS was associated with total number of anxiety disorders and with generalised anxiety disorder and panic disorder. We show a novel population-level association between schizophrenia PRS and manic/hypomanic episode.
The relationship between schizophrenia liability and anxiety disorders is not restricted to psychopathology in adolescence but is present in adulthood and specifically linked to generalised anxiety disorder and panic disorder. We suggest that the association between schizophrenia liability and hypomanic/manic episodes found in clinical samples may not be due to bias.
Declarations of interest