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Medical Science Monitor Basic Research


eISSN: 1643-3750

Recurrent brief depression and personality traits in allergy, anxiety and premenstrual syndrome patients: A general practice survey

W. Robert Williams, Jonathan P. Richards, Jamal R.M. Ameen, Julie Davies

Med Sci Monit 2007; 13(3): CR118-124

ID: 475537

Available online: 2007-03-01

Published: 2007-03-01

Background: Recurrent brief depression (RBD) is a common disorder, poorly characterised in clinical studies. Some problems associated with the diagnosis and treatment of RBD may be improved if patients are easier to identify. This study investigates the distribution of RBD and personality types within three common syndromes.
Material/Methods: A survey of adult patients in one general practice. Patients with anxiety, PMS or an allergy condition (n=1094) were screened for exclusion criteria, including depression. Of the study sample (n=384) 159 patients were interviewed. RBD patients were identifi ed by DSM-IV criteria. The Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale was used to categorise RBD (symptom scores of at least moderate severity) and RBD-res (milder symptoms) patients. Trait anxiety and personality dimensions were measured with the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) and Eysencks’ Personality Questionnaire (EPQ-R).
Results: In the syndrome groups, 40% of anxiety or PMS patients and 21% of allergy patients had a recurrent problem with brief depression, with half reporting symptoms of at least moderate severity. Patients with brief depression showed syndrome specifi c symptom and impairment differences for sleep, cognition, medication and suicide ideation. There were signifi cant differences in the distribution of STAI, neuroticism (N) and extraversion (E) scores between patients in the RBD and no depression categories. In the anxiety group, high STAI or N scores, and low E scores identifi ed all patients with RBD.
Conclusions: This study reveals a substantial burden of RBD in a practice population who were not receiving treatment nor consulting for depression. Trait scores were useful markers of RBD in patients with an anxiety condition.

Keywords: Anxiety - complications, Adult, Depression - complications, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Health Surveys, Hypersensitivity - complications, Personality, Premenstrual Syndrome - complications, Questionnaires