Patients with early onset psychosis could benefit from treatment for depression

early onset psychosis
© Katarzyna Bialasiewicz

Treatment for depression, including anti-depressants and other medication, may benefit patients with early onset psychosis

Scientists at the University of Birmingham‘s Institute for Mental Health studied the association between depression and psychosis by gathering data from 1700 patients and found that depression may be an inherent part of early onset psychotic disorders.

The team argue that their findings present that medication focused on treating depression may be an effective treatment for psychosis when given alongside other medications.


They have now begun a trial to test people in the first stages of psychosis who take anti-depressants alongside anti-psychotic drugs and will assess over a six month period whether the anti-depressants have an effect on the patients’ ability to recover from their psychosis.

Professsor Rachel Upthegrove, of the University of Birmingham’s Institute for Mental Health, led the study. She says: “Our results suggest that depression is absolutely inherent in early phases of schizophrenia and so may one of the most important factors that we can target with treatments.


“We know that depression in patients with schizophrenia frequently leads to poorer outcomes, and so understanding how treatment such as antidepressant might be used to improve these outcomes could be a big step forward.”

Paris Lalousis, a Priestly PhD Fellow at the University of Birmingham and the University of Melbourne, contributed to the study. He says: “Machine learning is a tool that has the potential to help solve the diagnostic and treatment conundrums that the complexity of mental health disorders present, and analyses using multimodal data are needed to advance the field. Our results show that using a principled approach and both psychopathological and biological factors can shed light into the experiences of patients with depression in early psychosis.”

The full study has been published in Schizophrenia Bulletin. 

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