Modelling the temporal interplay between stress and affective disturbances in pathways to psychosis: an experience sampling study

Annelie Klippel, Anita Schick, Inez Myin-Germeys, Christian Rauschenberg, Thomas Vaessen, Ulrich Reininghaus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Background
One putative psychological mechanism through which momentary stress impacts on psychosis in individuals with increased liability to the disorder is via affective disturbance. However, to date, this has not been systematically tested. We aimed to investigate whether (i) cross-sectional and temporal effects of momentary stress on psychotic experiences via affective disturbance, and (ii) the reverse pathway of psychotic experiences on stress via affective disturbance were modified by familial liability to psychosis.

Methods
The Experience Sampling Method was used in a pooled data set of six studies with three groups of 245 individuals with psychotic disorder, 165 unaffected first-degree relatives, and 244 healthy control individuals to index familial liability. Multilevel moderated mediation models were fitted to investigate indirect effects across groups cross-sectionally and multilevel cross-lagged panel models to investigate temporal effects in the proposed pathways across two measurement occasions.

Results
Evidence on indirect effects from cross-sectional models indicated that, in all three groups, effects of stress on psychotic experiences were mediated by negative affect and, vice versa, effects of psychotic experiences on stress were mediated by negative affect, with all indirect effects being weakest in relatives. Longitudinal modelling of data provided no evidence of temporal priority of stress in exerting its indirect effects on psychotic experiences via affective disturbance or, vice versa.

Conclusions
Our findings tentatively suggest a rapid vicious cycle of stress impacting psychotic experiences via affective disturbances, which does, however, not seem to be consistently modified by familial liability to psychosis.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalPsychological Medicine
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Mar 2021

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