Empathy, depressive symptoms, and social functioning among individuals with schizophrenia

Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, 446 E. Ontario, Suite 7-100, Chicago, IL 60611, USA
Psychiatry Research 05/2014; 216:325-332. DOI: 10.1016/j.psychres.2014.02.028


Empathy deficits have been associated with schizophrenia and depression. We compared whether individuals with schizophrenia with and without co-occurring depressive symptoms differed on self-reported and performance-based measures of empathy and social functioning. We also examined the relationships among depressive symptoms, empathy, clinical symptoms, and social functioning. Twenty-eight individuals with schizophrenia and depressive symptoms, thirty-two individuals with schizophrenia without depressive symptoms, and 44 control subjects were compared on assessments of depressive symptoms, empathy, global neurocognition, clinical symptoms, and social functioning. Both groups of individuals with schizophrenia scored higher than controls on the Interpersonal Reactivity Index personal distress subscale. Individuals with schizophrenia and co-occurring depressive symptoms scored significantly higher than individuals with schizophrenia without depressive symptoms on the personal distress subscale. Personal distress and depressive symptoms were significantly correlated among individuals with schizophrenia and co-occurring depressive symptoms, while both measures negatively correlated with social functioning. Emotional empathy was related to clinical symptoms in both groups of individuals with schizophrenia. Personal distress partially mediated the relationship between co-occurring depressive symptoms and social functioning. Personal distress may be an important implication for social functioning among individuals with schizophrenia and co-occurring depressive symptoms, and should be examined further as a potential treatment target.

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Available from: Matthew J Smith, Mar 12, 2014
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