Life events can trigger depressive exacerbation in the early course of schizophrenia

Joseph Ventura, Keith H. Nuechterlein, Kenneth L. Subotnik, Jean Pederson Hardesty, Jim Mintz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Previous studies have linked life events with depression in chronic schizophrenia, but those studies had methodological limitations. Using a prospective research design and examining events that were clearly independent of the patients' illnesses, the authors sought to determine whether stressful life events could trigger depressive symptoms in the early course of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia patients (n = 99) were followed for 1 year from a point of outpatient stabilization. Life event interviews were conducted every 4 weeks and symptom assessments every 2 weeks. Survival analyses showed a significantly increased risk for an exacerbation of significant depressive symptoms following an independent life event. Of interest is that an analysis of competing risk showed that the odds of psychotic exacerbation following a major independent life event were not significantly greater than the odds of depressive exacerbation. The risk of depression and of psychosis after experiencing a stressful life event is significantly increased for the first month, but the risk period can extend to 3 months.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-144
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Abnormal Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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