Fifty-nine psychotic patients with acute onset of illness, who had been interviewed about their experience of stressful life events before the episode, were followed up for an average of 42 months. Thirty patients (51%) had experienced a stressful life event in the 3 months immediately before onset (EV +), 29 had not (EV −).
In patients with an RDC diagnosis of affective disorder or unspecified functional psychosis, the presence of stressful life events was associated subsequently with milder symptom severity, less time spent in hospital, more treatment for depressive symptoms and less for psychotic symptoms. In schizophrenia, differences were less apparent, but patients with event associated episodes had less need of anti-psychotic maintenance medication over the follow-up period and tended to have spent more time in complete remission. EV + schizophrenic subjects also had higher morbid risk for schizophrenia in their first degree relatives, and tended to be female and to have less typical symptoms than EV − schizophrenic patients.