Send to

Choose Destination
Psychol Med. 2010 Feb;40(2):239-51. doi: 10.1017/S0033291709006035. Epub 2009 Jun 3.

Painful physical symptoms and treatment outcome in major depressive disorder: a STAR*D (Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression) report.

Author information

Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90024-1759, USA.



Painful physical symptoms (PPS) are both common and reduce the likelihood of remission in major depressive disorder (MDD), based upon results of clinical trials in selected populations. Whether PPS significantly contribute to poorer treatment outcome overall in primary or specialty psychiatric care settings remains unclear.


Out-patients (n=2876) with MDD were treated in the first step of the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) trial with citalopram up to 60 mg/day for up to 14 weeks. Presence of painful symptoms, as well as severity of depression, physical illness, and demographic and treatment factors were examined. Time to and overall rates of remission were analysed in relation to the presence of PPS.


Of the participants, 80% complained of PPS. These patients, both in primary and specialty psychiatric settings, had significantly lower remission rates and took longer to remit. Increasing severity of PPS was associated with greater physical illness burden, lower socio-economic status, absence of private insurance and being female, African-American or Hispanic. After adjustment for these factors, patients with PPS no longer had significantly poorer treatment outcomes.


Presence and severity of PPS is an indicator of MDD that may have poorer treatment outcome with an initial selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. These poorer treatment outcomes are multifactorial, however, and are not explained by the presence and severity of pain per se.


[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Cambridge University Press
Loading ...
Support Center