Background: This study evaluated the clinical and sociodemographic features associated with various degrees of concurrent comorbidity in adult outpatients with nonpsychotic major depressive disorder (MDD).
Methods: Outpatients enrolled in the STAR*D trial completed the Psychiatric Diagnostic Screening Questionnaire (PDSQ). An a priori 90% specificity threshold was set for PDSQ responses to ascertain the presence of 11 different concurrent DSM-IV Axis I disorders.
Results: Of 1376 outpatients, 38.2% had no concurrent comorbidities, while 25.6% suffered one, 16.1% suffered two, and 20.2% suffered three or more comorbid conditions. Altogether, 29.3% met threshold for social anxiety disorder, 20.8% for generalized anxiety disorder, 18.8% for posttraumatic stress disorder, 12.4% for bulimia, 11.9% for alcohol abuse/dependence, 13.4% for obsessive-compulsive disorder, 11.1% for panic disorder, 9.4% for agoraphobia, 7.3% for drug abuse/dependence, 3.7% for hypochondriasis, and 2.2% for somatoform disorder. Those with more concurrent Axis I conditions had earlier ages at first onset of MDD, longer histories of MDD, greater depressive symptom severity, more general medical comorbidity (even though they were younger than those with fewer comorbid conditions), poorer physical and mental function, health perceptions, and life satisfaction; and were more likely to be seen in primary care settings.
Limitations: Participants had to meet entry criteria for STAR*D. Ascertainment of comorbid conditions was not based on a structured interview.
Conclusions: Concurrent Axis I conditions (most often anxiety disorders) are very common with MDD. Greater numbers of concurrent comorbid conditions were associated with increased severity, morbidity, and chronicity of their MDD.