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Psychol Med. 1995 Jul;25(4):825-32.

Sub-typing depression, II. Clinical distinction of psychotic depression and non-psychotic melancholia.

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  • 1Mood Disorders Unit, Prince Henry Hospital, NSW, Australia.


We have attempted to clarify clinical differentiating features of psychotic depression. Forty-six depressed subjects meeting DSM-III-R criteria for major depression with psychotic features were compared with (i) DSM-defined melancholic, (ii) Newcastle-defined endogenous, and (iii) a residual DSM-defined major depressive episode group. Additionally, a 'bottom up' latent class analysis (LCA) suggested a larger sample of 82 'psychotic depressive' subjects, and multivariate analyses contrasted these subjects with both LCA-identified melancholic and all residual depressed subjects. Analyses suggested that, in addition to two features with absolute specificity (delusions and hallucinations), both the DSM-defined and LCA-defined 'psychotic depressive' subjects were significantly more likely to demonstrate marked psychomotor disturbance, to report two morbid cognitions (feeling sinful and guilty; feeling deserving of punishment), as well as be more likely to report constipation, terminal insomnia, appetite/weight loss and (variable across the defined 'psychotic depressive' groups) loss of interest and pleasure. The study identifies a wider set of potentially discriminating clinical variables than previous studies, as well as both indicating the existence and assisting identification of 'true' psychotic depression in the absence of formal psychotic features being acknowledged or elicited.

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