Somatic symptoms and depression

J Fam Pract. 1989 Jul;29(1):65-9.


Patients with psychiatric illness frequently visit their medical physicians with somatic complaints or amplification of complaints about chronic medical illness, yet few of these patients meet Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-Third Edition (DSM-III) criteria for a somatoform disorder. In a sample of 197 medical patients interviewed with the Diagnostic Interview Schedule, only 7.1% met DSM-III criteria for somatization disorder, but nearly one third of these patients met criteria for an abridged notion of somatization. Patients with current and lifetime major depression had significantly higher mean totals of positive somatic symptoms compared with controls who had no psychiatric disorder. Nearly one half of these patients with one or more depressive episodes in the course of their lifetime met the abridged criteria for somatization. This association of major depression with somatization is quite similar to findings from the Epidemiologic Catchment Area study suggesting that major depression, not the somatoform disorders, may be associated with most of the somatization seen in medical clinics.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders*
  • Somatoform Disorders / psychology