Comorbidity Profiles of Psychotic Patients in Emergency Psychiatry

J Dual Diagn. 2020 Apr-Jun;16(2):260-270. doi: 10.1080/15504263.2020.1713425. Epub 2020 Jan 26.


Objectives: Individuals with psychotic symptoms presenting to emergency psychiatry often have comorbid symptoms, such as substance misuse, depression, and anxiety. Many will also have symptoms linked to previous traumatic experiences such as impulsivity, often found in comorbid personality disorders. Although various studies have looked at specific comorbid symptoms, little is known regarding how these symptoms co-exist in individuals with psychotic symptoms and their link with social functioning. The primary objective of the present study was to identify comorbidity profiles among individuals seeking emergency room services for psychotic symptoms. The secondary objective was to investigate the relationship between comorbid symptoms and social functioning deficits in this same population. Methods: Data from 546 individuals seeking psychiatric help for psychotic symptoms was collected within the Signature Project (large data bank) in a psychiatric emergency. Participants answered brief measures of symptoms of alcohol/substance misuse (AUDIT, DAST), depression (PHQ-9), anxiety (STAI-6), childhood trauma (CEVQ), impulsivity (UPPS) and social functioning deficits (WHODAS). For this study, symptom measures and social functioning at baseline were used. Results: Cluster analyses conducted using three different methods revealed a consensus of five classes of comorbid presentations. Class 1 (n = 90) grouped people who had a high score for childhood trauma, with fairly high scores for anxiety and depression. Class 2 (n = 176) included people with mostly psychotic symptoms with little comorbid presentation across other measures. Class 3 (n = 81) grouped people with the highest anxiety and depression scores as well as high drug use and impulsivity. Individuals in Class 4 (n = 87) had the highest scores on alcohol and substance abuse, as well as high impulsivity. Class 5 (n = 112) grouped people with very low anxiety and depression scores but average trauma, alcohol, and substance misuse scores. Linear regressions revealed an association between social functioning, and depression, anxiety, and childhood trauma. Conclusions: Comorbid presentations of individuals with psychosis are frequent and diverse. Depression and anxiety, in particular, worsen social functioning deficits in people with psychotic symptoms. Given their impact on functioning, psychiatric treatments should address these comorbidities during hospitalization, as well as when followed in the community.

Keywords: Psychosis; anxiety; comorbidity; data bank; depression; impulsivity; social functioning; substance misuse; trauma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Adult Survivors of Child Adverse Events / statistics & numerical data
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Diagnosis, Dual (Psychiatry)
  • Emergency Services, Psychiatric / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychological Trauma / epidemiology*
  • Psychosocial Functioning*
  • Psychotic Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Psychotic Disorders / therapy
  • Quebec / epidemiology
  • Social Behavior Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*