Thyroid dysfunction is often reported in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) and may be associated with depression severity and psychotic symptoms. We included young adults with first-episode and untreated MDD to avoid the effect of age and disease duration on thyroid dysfunction and psychotic symptoms.
481 young patients with MDD (aged 18-24 years) were recruited. The Hamilton Depression Scale (HAMD), Hamilton Anxiety Scale (HAMA), Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) positive subscale and Global Impression of Severity Scale (CGIS) were used to assess depression, anxiety, psychotic symptoms and disease severity, respectively.
The prevalence rate of subclinical hypothyroidism (SCH) and thyroid antibody positivity was 56.76 % (273/481) and 26.61 % (128/481) in young MDD, respectively. A higher proportion of MDD patients with SCH displayed psychotic features (14.3 % vs. 5.3 %, OR = 2.985, p = 0.001). TSH was a risk factor for psychotic symptoms in MDD patient with SCH (B = 0.136, p = 0.017, OR = 1.384), with an AUC of 0.709, indicating acceptable discrimination. Multivariate regression analysis also showed that TSH was also independently associated with PANSS positive score (B = 0.339, t = 2.019, p = 0.045).
This cross-sectional study design did not demonstrate a causal relationship. Relying solely on the PANSS positive subscale as psychotic symptoms may cause bias.
Our findings suggest that SCH is common in young patients with first-episode and untreated MDD. MDD patients with higher TSH levels may suffer from more psychotic symptoms. Regular screening of serum thyroid hormones is necessary in patients with MDD.

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