Sensory profiles in unipolar and bipolar affective disorders: Possible predictors of response to antidepressant medications? A prospective follow-up study

J Affect Disord. 2018 Nov;240:237-246. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2018.07.032. Epub 2018 Jul 23.


Introduction: Sensory processing patterns have been proposed as a stable dimension able to characterize individuals with major affective disorders, but to what extent specific impairments in sensory processing may be involved in the pathophysiology of these conditions is poorly understood. We aimed to explore which sensory profiles may better respond to psychoactive medications, with particular regard to antidepressants, according to depression, alexithymia, and hopelessness levels.

Methods: A total of 402 outpatients who received maintenance treatment and were in stable psychopathological conditions were recruited and completed the Adolescent/Adult Sensory Profile (AASP), Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20), second version of the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II), and Beck Hopelessness Scale (BHS) according to a longitudinal prospective study design including three time points of measurements.

Results: Subjects with abnormally reduced sensory seeking, hypersensitivity, enhanced sensory avoidance, and lower ability to register information better responded to antidepressant medications according to their reduced depression levels. Similarly, participants with lower registration better responded to antidepressants as reported by lower hopelessness levels. Regression analyses revealed that the use of antidepressants was the first variable able to predict depression, hopelessness, and alexithymia levels at baseline, and after three and six months of treatment, respectively, but the pattern of sensory sensitivity contribute to the prediction of depression and hopelessness. This pattern together with low registration predicted changes in alexithymia levels.

Limitations: The study was limited by the modest sample size at the follow-up assessment points.

Discussion: Exploring sensory processing patterns may provide intriguing insights into specific illness characteristics and treatment response.

Keywords: Alexithymia; Antidepressant response; Depression; Hopelessness; Sensory processing patterns.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affective Symptoms / drug therapy
  • Affective Symptoms / psychology*
  • Aged
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Bipolar Disorder / drug therapy
  • Bipolar Disorder / psychology*
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / drug therapy
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outpatients
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Sensation
  • Young Adult


  • Antidepressive Agents