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J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2000 Oct;39(10):1253-9.

Atypical symptoms of depression in a sample of depressed child and adolescent outpatients.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, USA.



To examine the presence of symptoms of atypical depression among children and adolescents with a major depressive disorder (MDD).


One thousand forty-six youths (aged 6-19 years) meeting DSM-III-R criteria for MDD were included in the study. All subjects had presented at an outpatient clinic seeking treatment and were identified as having MDD via clinical interviews using the semistructured Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children-Present Episode (K-SADS-P) with the youngster themselves and a parent/guardian. A diagnosis of atypical depression was derived from the symptoms of depression assessed in the K-SADS-P and required the presence of mood reactivity and at least one the following symptoms: hypersomnia, increased appetite, weight gain, or psychomotor retardation (substituted for leaden paralysis).


One hundred sixty-two (15.5%) of the depressed youths met criteria for atypical depression. The symptoms of atypical depression were found to correlate marginally, and the diagnosis of atypical depression had marginal construct validity for both children and adolescents.


The findings from this large sample of depressed children and adolescents suggest that atypical features of depression occur in this age group. However, the diagnosis of atypical depression appears to have only marginal construct validity for both children and adolescents.

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