Residual symptoms at remission from depression: impact on long-term outcome

J Affect Disord. 2004 Jun;80(2-3):135-44. doi: 10.1016/S0165-0327(03)00054-5.


Background: Although residual symptoms after remission from depression are common and predict early relapse, little is known about the impact of residual symptoms on longer-term clinical course of depression or social functioning.

Methods: Sixty severe recurrent depressives, who remitted from an index episode of depression with residual symptoms or below residual symptomatology, were followed-up at 8-10 years. Subjects underwent detailed longitudinal interviewing on course of depression, treatment and socioecomonic functioning over follow-up.

Results: Long-term follow-up data was obtained on all living subjects and 55 (95%) were interviewed. The residual symptoms group spent more time with depressive symptoms over follow-up but not at full criteria for major depression and showed greater impairment in longitudinal and follow-up social adjustment. No significant differences were found between the two groups in percentage recurring long-term, mean number of recurrences, readmissions, chronic episodes or clinical global outcome criteria.

Limitations: Long-term clinical and social outcomes were assessed by a single retrospective longitudinal interview.

Conclusions: Patients who remit from depression with residual symptomatology continue to have more depressive symptoms and impaired social functioning long-term and may need more aggressive treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy*
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Remission Induction
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Social Behavior
  • Time Factors