Psychosocial impairment and recurrence of major depression
Review articleOpen access

AbstractMajor depressive disorder is often marked by multiple recurrences. Unfortunately, it is difficult to predict specifically which patients will suffer a recurrence. This study examined whether psychosocial impairment is a risk factor for recurrence. A total of 290 subjects with unipolar major depressive disorder according to Research Diagnostic Criteria (RDC) were prospectively followed for up to 15 years as part of the Collaborative Depression Study (CDS), a multicenter longitudinal observational study of the mood disorders. Follow-up data on course of illness and psychosocial functioning were collected with the Longitudinal Interval Follow-up Evaluation (LIFE). The association of psychosocial impairment with recurrence of major depression was examined with mixed-effects logistic regression. The mean (SD) score for psychosocial functioning during recovery from an episode of major depression was 9.0 (2.7), with a possible range of 4 (no impairment) to 20 (severe impairment). For euthymic subjects who recovered from an episode of major depression, elevated psychosocial impairment was significantly associated with subsequent recurrence of major depression, with an odds ratio of 1.12 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.06 to 1.19). The odds ratio of 1.12 indicates that for each 1-point increase in the functional impairment score, the risk of recurrence increases by about 12%. In patients who have recovered from an episode of major depression, the presence of psychosocial impairment may help identify who is at increased risk of recurrence.

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