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Physical symptoms of depression: unmet needs

Physical symptoms of depression: unmet needs

Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 64(Suppl. 7): 5-11

The burden of depression on society is sizable. Innate to this burden are underdiagnosis and under-treatment of unipolar and bipolar major depressive disorder in all parts of the health care system in part due to underrecognition of the physical symptoms that commonly are core components of major depressive disorder. Physical pains especially complicate the diagnosis of depression. Many patients de-emphasize psychosocial symptoms while emphasizing pains as their primary or sole complaints. There is a high correlation between the number of physical symptoms reported and the presence of depression. Additionally, patients with residual physical and emotional symptoms following treatment for depression appear to be at higher risk of relapse compared with those who have no residual symptoms. Complex genetic vulnerabilities underlie the depressive diathesis, and stress appears to be an accentuation for the gene expression that sets off episodes of depression in persons with these predispositions. If underdiagnosis interferes and acute treatment is not implemented early and effectively for initial episodes of depression and maintained after remission, individuals with genetic vulnerabilities may experience a pattern of recurrences, cycle acceleration, and increased severity. Serotonin and norepinephrine may be shared neurochemical links that tie depression and physical symptoms together. Thus, it is reasonable to hypothesize that antidepressants that incorporate both serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibition might be a more efficacious treatment approach for patients with physical symptoms of depression.

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Accession: 049921306

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PMID: 12755646

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