While it is now recognized that psychotic experiences are associated with an increased risk of later mental disorders, we lack a detailed understanding of the reciprocal time-lagged relationships between first onsets of psychotic experiences and mental disorders. Using data from World Health Organization World Mental Health (WMH) Surveys, the authors assessed the bidirectional temporal associations between psychotic experiences and mental disorders.
The WMH Surveys assessed lifetime prevalence and age at onset of psychotic experiences and 21 common DSM-IV mental disorders among 31,261 adult respondents from 18 countries. Discrete-time survival models were used to examine bivariate and multivariate associations between psychotic experiences and mental disorders.
Temporally primary psychotic experiences were significantly associated with subsequent first onset of eight of the 21 mental disorders (major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia, posttraumatic stress disorder, adult separation anxiety disorder, bulimia nervosa, and alcohol abuse), with odds ratios ranging from 1.3 (95% CI=1.2-1.5) for major depressive disorder to 2.0 (95% CI=1.5-2.6) for bipolar disorder. In contrast, 18 of 21 primary mental disorders were significantly associated with subsequent first onset of psychotic experiences, with odds ratios ranging from 1.5 (95% CI=1.0-2.1) for childhood separation anxiety disorder to 2.8 (95% CI=1.0-7.8) for anorexia nervosa.
While temporally primary psychotic experiences are associated with an elevated risk of several subsequent mental disorders, these data show that most mental disorders are associated with an elevated risk of subsequent psychotic experiences. Further investigation of the underlying factors accounting for these time-order relationships may shed light on the etiology of psychotic experiences.
- Psychotic experiences