Introduction: Increased affective reactivity to daily life stress has been found in individuals with psychosis and depression, and in those at risk for these conditions. Because depressive and psychotic symptoms often co-occur, increased affective reactivity in these disorders may be explained by the presence of depressive symptoms, psychotic symptoms, or both. Therefore, we examined whether affective reactivity to daily stress is related to positive psychotic symptoms, independently of depressive symptoms, and vice versa.
Methods: We used data from an intensive sampling study in the general population (n = 411), with three measurements a day (t = 90). The following subjective stressors were assessed: appraisal of activities, appraisal of social interactions, and experienced physical discomfort. Affective reactivity was conceptualized as both the positive affect (PA) and negative affect (NA) response to these stressors. By means of mixed model analyses, it was examined whether affective reactivity was independently related to depressive and/or positive psychotic symptoms.
Results: The PA response to activities and NA response to social interactions were negatively and positively related to depressive symptoms, respectively, independent of psychotic symptoms. In contrast, no (in)dependent association was found between positive psychotic symptoms and affective reactivity to any of the daily life stressors. These findings were confirmed in a subsample with increased symptoms.
Limitations: The prevalence of positive psychotic symptoms was relatively low in this general population sample.
Conclusions: Increased affect reactivity predicts depressive symptoms, but not positive psychotic symptoms. Affective reactivity may still facilitate the development of psychotic symptomatology via its impact on depressive symptoms.
Keywords: Affective reactivity; Depression; Experience sampling; General population; Psychosis; Social interaction.
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