The relationship between somatic symptoms and depression.

OBJECTIVE: We investigated the influence of somatic symptoms on the severity and clinical outcomes in female Korean patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) in routine practice.

METHODS: Two hundred and seven female patients with MDD were prospectively recruited. Patients with somatic symptoms (PSS) was defined as a total score ≥ 10 on the Patient Health Questionnaire-15 (PHQ-15), others were classified as non PSS (NPSS). The PHQ-9 for de-pression, the Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale (GAD-7) for anxiety, the Clinical Global Impression-Severity (CGI-S) for clinical status, and the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) for health status were utilised.

RESULTS: Of 207 participants, 126 (60.9%) were PSS and 81 (39.1%) were classified as NPSS. The proportion of patients showing severe symptoms (65.1% vs. 24.7%) and recurrence of depression (74.6% vs. 49.4%), the CGI-S (4.6 vs. 4.1), the PHQ-9 (16.8 vs. 11.1), and the GAD-7 (8.3 vs 6.7) scores were significantly higher in PSS than in NPSS, while the VAS (39.4 vs. 51.2) was significantly lower in PSS than in NPSS. The improvement of depressive symptoms (-1.3 vs. -2.0) measured by the changes in CGI-S was also significantly less in PSS than in NPSS after 6 months treatment.

CONCLUSION: Our findings have shown the significant impact of somatic symptoms on the symptomatology as well as treatment outcomes in Korean female patients with MDD, indicating that clinicians should carefully evaluate somatic symptoms in patients with MDD in routine clinical practice. Due to the methodological shortcomings of the present study, further adequately powered and well-designed investigations are necessary.

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