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Am J Psychiatry. 2002 Apr;159(4):637-43.

A descriptive analysis of minor depression.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, La Jolla, 92037, USA.



The authors provide a detailed clinical description of minor depression: its symptoms, level of disability, stability, and relationship to patient and family history of major depressive disorder.


Rigorous criteria for minor depression, including functional disability, were used to identify 226 individuals for a three-phase treatment study. This report presents data obtained on that study group during the first study phase, a 4-week placebo lead-in period.


One hundred sixty-two subjects (72% of the initial study group) remained in the study for 4 weeks and continued to meet criteria for minor depression. Minor depression in these subjects was primarily characterized by mood and cognitive symptoms, not the classical neurovegetative signs and symptoms of depression. Approximately one-third of the subjects with minor depression had a past history of major depressive disorder, and nearly half had a family history of unipolar depressive disorder; however, neither factor affected the severity or quality of minor depressive symptoms.


These data suggest that 1) minor depression is not evanescent; 2) minor depression is characterized by mood and cognitive symptoms rather than neurovegetative symptoms; 3) minor depression may occur either independently of a lifetime history of major depressive disorder or as a stage of illness in the course of recurrent unipolar depressive disorder; and 4) depressive disorders should be conceptualized as a continuum of severity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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