Get access

Evidence for a familial correlation between increased reactivity to stress and positive psychotic symptoms

Authors

  • T. Lataster,

    1. Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology, South Limburg Mental Health Research and Teaching Network, Euron, Maastricht University, the Netherlands
    Search for more papers by this author
  • D. Collip,

    1. Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology, South Limburg Mental Health Research and Teaching Network, Euron, Maastricht University, the Netherlands
    Search for more papers by this author
  • M. Lardinois,

    1. Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology, South Limburg Mental Health Research and Teaching Network, Euron, Maastricht University, the Netherlands
    Search for more papers by this author
  • J. Van Os,

    1. Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology, South Limburg Mental Health Research and Teaching Network, Euron, Maastricht University, the Netherlands
    2. Division of Psychological Medicine and Psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, UK
    Search for more papers by this author
  • I. Myin-Germeys

    1. Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology, South Limburg Mental Health Research and Teaching Network, Euron, Maastricht University, the Netherlands
    2. School of Psychological Sciences, University of Manchester, UK
    Search for more papers by this author

Inez Myin-Germeys, Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology, Maastricht University, PO BOX 616 (VIJV), 6200 MD Maastricht, the Netherlands.
E-mail: i.germeys@sp.unimaas.nl

Abstract

Lataster T, Collip D, Lardinois M, van Os J, Myin-Germeys I. Evidence for a familial correlation between increased reactivity to stress and positive psychotic symptoms.

Objective:  This study tested the hypothesis that stress-reactivity may represent an intermediary phenotype underlying positive psychotic symptoms. It was examined whether: (i) stress-reactivity clusters within families of psychotic patients and (ii) stress-reactivity in relatives cosegregates with positive symptoms in patients.

Method:  The sample consisted of 40 patients and 47 siblings of these patients. The Experience Sampling Method (ESM – a structured diary technique) was used to measure stress-reactivity. Positive symptoms in patients were measured with the Comprehensive Assessment of Symptoms and History.

Results:  Within-trait, cross-sib associations showed a significant association between stress-reactivity in the patient and stress-reactivity in their siblings. Significant cross-trait, cross-sib associations were established showing a significant association between positive psychotic symptoms in the patient and stress-reactivity in the sibling.

Conclusion:  The findings show familial clustering of increased stress-reactivity, suggesting common aetiological influences, probably both genetic and environmental, underlying stress-reactivity in the siblings and patients. In addition, the results underscore the hypothesis that increased stress-reactivity is an unconfounded mechanism of risk underlying the positive symptoms of psychotic disorders.

Ancillary