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In this study, we examined the relationship between polygenic liability for depression and number of stressful life events (SLEs) as risk factors for early-onset depression treated in inpatient, outpatient or emergency room settings at psychiatric hospitals in Denmark.
Data were drawn from the iPSYCH2012 case-cohort sample, a population-based sample of individuals born in Denmark between 1981 and 2005. The sample included 18 532 individuals who were diagnosed with depression by a psychiatrist by age 31 years, and a comparison group of 20 184 individuals. Information on SLEs was obtained from nationwide registers and operationalized as a time-varying count variable. Hazard ratios and cumulative incidence rates were estimated using Cox regressions.
Risk for depression increased by 35% with each standard deviation increase in polygenic liability (p < 0.0001), and 36% (p < 0.0001) with each additional SLE. There was a small interaction between polygenic liability and SLEs (β = −0.04, p = 0.0009). The probability of being diagnosed with depression in a hospital-based setting between ages 15 and 31 years ranged from 1.5% among males in the lowest quartile of polygenic liability with 0 events by age 15, to 18.8% among females in the highest quartile of polygenic liability with 4+ events by age 15.
These findings suggest that although there is minimal interaction between polygenic liability and SLEs as risk factors for hospital-treated depression, combining information on these two important risk factors could potentially be useful for identifying high-risk individuals.
Life events (LEs) are a risk factor for first onset and relapse of psychotic disorders. However, the impact of LEs on specific symptoms – namely reality distortion, disorganization, negative symptoms, depression, and mania – remains unclear. Moreover, the differential effects of negative v. positive LEs are poorly understood.
The present study utilizes an epidemiologic cohort of patients (N = 428) ascertained at first-admission for psychosis and followed for a decade thereafter. Symptoms were assessed at 6-, 24-, 48-, and 120-month follow-ups.
We examined symptom change within-person and found that negative events in the previous 6 months predicted an increase in reality distortion (β = 0.07), disorganized (β = 0.07), manic (β = 0.08), and depressive symptoms (β = 0.06), and a decrease in negative symptoms (β = −0.08). Conversely, positive LEs predicted fewer reality distortion (β = −0.04), disorganized (β = −0.04), and negative (β = −0.13) symptoms, and were unrelated to mood symptoms. A between-person approach to the same hypotheses confirmed that negative LEs predicted change in all symptoms, while positive LEs predicted change only in negative symptoms. In contrast, symptoms rarely predicted future LEs.
These findings confirm that LEs have an effect on symptoms, and thus contribute to the burden of psychotic disorders. That LEs increase positive symptoms and decrease negative symptoms suggest at least two different mechanisms underlying the relationship between LEs and symptoms. Our findings underscore the need for increased symptom monitoring following negative LEs, as symptoms may worsen during that time.
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