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Psychotic Subtyping of Major Depressive Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

J Clin Psychiatry 1999;60:311-314
10.4088/JCP.v60n0508

Background: Many studies have established that a large percentage of patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have comorbid major depressive disorder. Other studies have found that patients with PTSD or a history of childhood trauma have an increased rate of psychotic symptoms. In the present report from the Rhode Island Methods to Improve Diagnosis and Services project, we examine whether an association exists between psychotic subtyping of major depressive disorder and PTSD.

Method: Five hundred psychiatric outpatients were interviewed with the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV.

Results: Almost half of the 500 patients had nonbipolar major depressive disorder (N = 235, 47.0%), 45 (19.1%) of whom had PTSD. Nineteen patients had psychotic depression, 216 had nonpsychotic depression. Compared with patients with nonpsychotic depression, the patients with psychotic depression were nearly 4 times more likely to have PTSD (57.9% vs. 15.7%, Fisher exact test, p = .0001).

Conclusion: The results of the present study suggest that the presence of psychosis in psychiatric outpatients with major depressive disorder is associated with concurrent PTSD. It is hypothesized that the poorer longitudinal course of psychotic versus nonpsychotic depression may be due to the underrecognition of PTSD in psychotically depressed patients.