Prevalence of depressive symptoms early in the course of schizophrenia

Am J Psychiatry. 1999 Feb;156(2):315-6. doi: 10.1176/ajp.156.2.315.


Objective: The rate of depressive symptoms early in the course of schizophrenia was determined.

Method: Seventy subjects with recent-onset schizophrenia were followed for 5 years by using semistructured interview instruments. The initial assessment included ratings of each criterion A symptom of a DSM-III-R major depressive episode. The rates of symptoms experienced with at least moderate severity were calculated, and an algorithm based on DSM identified subjects meeting the criteria for a major depressive episode.

Results: Four symptoms were present to at least a moderate degree in a majority of subjects, while no symptom was present in fewer than 12% of subjects. More than one-third of the subjects met the algorithmic criteria for a major depressive episode at the time of intake.

Conclusions: Depressive symptoms are common early in the course of schizophrenia. This finding is consistent with other recent data and has potential implications for current diagnostic and treatment practices.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales / statistics & numerical data
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*
  • Severity of Illness Index