The long-term perspective: a study of psychopathology and health status of patients with a history of depression more than 15 years after the first episode

Gen Hosp Psychiatry. Nov-Dec 2000;22(6):399-404. doi: 10.1016/s0163-8343(00)00099-2.


This article examines psychopathology, functioning, well-being, social support, and coping-behavior of family practice patients with a history of depressive illness, both with and without recurrences. Results of depressive patients were compared with each other and with those of "normal" controls. The patients belonged to the four practices of the Continuous Morbidity Registry of the University of Nijmegen, Netherlands. Their first episode of depression for each patient was more than 15 years ago. Data were collected with the Symptom Checklist (SCL-90) the RAND-36, the Social Support List (SSL-12), and the short Utrecht Coping List (UCL-k). Psychopathology scores of patients without recurrences were higher than "normal" controls and lower than patients with recurrences. The same pattern was found concerning health status. No significant differences were found between the groups in social support but patients with recurrences had a lower score of emotional coping than patients without recurrences or normal patients. That even a long time after an episode of depression, patients have higher levels of a variety of psychopathology than controls has implications for every-day practice as it calls for a longer and more critical follow-up of depression by clinicians.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands
  • Primary Health Care
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Recurrence
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors