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J Nerv Ment Dis. 1987 Jun;175(6):339-46.

Multiaxial characterization of depressive patients.


A review of the literature on the comprehensive description of depressive patients revealed prominent concern with syndromic subtypes, course of illness, and personality factors, followed by severity, concomitant physical disorders, psychosocial stressors, and adaptive functioning. The descriptive value of multiaxial approaches for depression was illustrated through the application of an extended DSM-III formulation to all 3455 depressive (bipolar depression, major depression, dysthymic disorder, and atypical depression) and 7837 nondepressive patients of all ages and sexes presenting for evaluation and care at the Psychiatric Institute of the University of Pittsburgh during a period of 53 months. Twenty-six percent of the depressive patients received an additional diagnosis in axis I, the most frequent of which were substance use disorder, anxiety disorder, and condition not attributable to a mental disorder. In axis II, depressive patients presented a differentially higher frequency of dependent personality disorder and the "anxious/fearful" cluster of personality disorders. In axis III, 47% of the depressive vs. 40% of the nondepressive patients had a positive diagnosis of physical illness, with a significantly higher frequency among depressive patients attained by acquired hypothyroidism, migraine, essential hypertension, unspecified abdominal hernia, and unspecified arthropathies. Specific stressors differentially more frequent among depressive patients were those of conjugal, parenting, and occupational types and those reflecting the impact of physical illness. Overall stressor severity was at severe, extreme, or catastrophic levels for 42% of the depressive and 31% of the nondepressive patients. The highest level of adaptive functioning in the past year was good, very good, or superior for 44% of the depressive and 29% of the nondepressive patients.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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