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J Affect Disord. 1985 Nov;9(3):199-206.

Refining DSM-III criteria in Major Depression. An assessment of the descriptive validity of criterion symptoms.


In this study we estimate the power of DSM-III Major Depression (MDD) symptoms to discriminate MDD from (1) Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and (2) no disorder. The NIMH-DIS was administered to 319 women exposed to chronic stress (all were mothers of disabled children). Two methods were used: (1) conditional probabilities, and (2) multiple regression analysis. Symptoms had greater utility in discriminating MDD from no disorder than from GAD. 'Gained weight' and 'thinking about death' had the least efficacy in either discrimination. 'Hypersomnia' and 'insomnia' contributed to the discrimination from no disorder, whereas 'fatigue' and 'sex disinterest' discriminated MDD from GAD. 'Guilt', 'trouble concentrating', 'lost appetite' and 'wanted to die' were important in both comparisons. Despite recent emphasis on observable behaviors and physiologic measures, guilt, a subjectively experienced inner state, was the most important symptom in MDD.

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