Improving outcomes in depression: a focus on somatic symptoms

J Psychosom Res. 2006 Mar;60(3):279-82. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2005.09.010.


Background: It is hypothesized that somatic symptom alleviation is a significant predictor of overall outcome in depressed primary care patients.

Methods: Depressed primary care patients (N=205) meeting DSM-IV-TR criteria received open-label antidepressant therapy. The primary symptom measurement tool used was the 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD-17), with the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) and the Clinical Global Impression Improvement/Severity (CGI-I/S) used as secondary measures. As proxies for somatic symptoms, 8 items from the HAMD-17 (HAMD-S) and 3 items from the MADRS (MADRS-S) that measure somatic symptoms were identified and extracted.

Results: There was a significant correlation between improvement on the HAMD-S score and overall reduction on the MADRS total score (r=.766, P<.001), response (r=.594, P<.001), and remission (r=.552, P<.001). Improvement on the MADRS-S also correlated with overall HAMD-17 improvement (r=.782, P<.001), along with response (r=.649, P<.001) and remission (r=.539, P<.001) rates. Both the HAMD-S and the MADRS-S correlated with global improvement as measured by the CGI-I/S (P<.001).

Conclusions: A reciprocal interaction between somatic symptoms and other depressive-symptom domains is implied by this analysis. Clinicians are encouraged to identify, track, and target the somatic symptoms of depressive illnesses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy*
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Primary Health Care / methods
  • Remission Induction
  • Somatoform Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Somatoform Disorders / psychology*


  • Antidepressive Agents