Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Psychotic disorders and major depression, both typically adult-onset conditions, often co-occur. At younger ages psychotic experiences and depressive symptoms are often reported in the community. We used a genetically sensitive longitudinal design to investigate the relationship between psychotic experiences and depressive symptoms in adolescence. A representative community sample of twins from England and Wales was employed. Self-rated depressive symptoms, paranoia, hallucinations, cognitive disorganization, grandiosity, anhedonia, and parent-rated negative symptoms were collected when the twins were age 16 (N = 9618) and again on a representative subsample 9 months later (N = 2873). Direction and aetiology of associations were assessed using genetically informative cross-lagged models. Depressive symptoms were moderately correlated with paranoia, hallucinations, and cognitive disorganization. Lower correlations were observed between depression and anhedonia, and depression and parent-rated negative symptoms. Nonsignificant correlations were observed between depression and grandiosity. Largely the same genetic effects influenced depression and paranoia, depression and hallucinations, and depression and cognitive disorganization. Modest overlap in environmental influences also played a role in the associations. Significant bi-directional longitudinal associations were observed between depression and paranoia. Hallucinations and cognitive disorganization during adolescence were found to impact later depression, even after controlling for earlier levels of depression. Our study shows that psychotic experiences and depression, as traits in the community, have a high genetic overlap in mid-adolescence. Future research should test the prediction stemming from our longitudinal results, namely that reducing or ameliorating positive and cognitive psychotic experiences in adolescence would decrease later depressive symptoms.

Original publication




Journal article


Schizophr Bull

Publication Date





1197 - 1206


adolescence, depression, genetics, psychotic experiences, twin study, Adolescent, Depressive Disorder, Major, Diseases in Twins, Female, Hallucinations, Humans, Longitudinal Studies, Male, Paranoid Disorders, Psychotic Disorders