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Am J Psychiatry. 1998 Aug;155(8):1044-8.

Reliability and validity of depressive personality disorder.

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Personality and Psychosocial Research Program, McLean Hospital, Belmont, Mass, USA.



Depressive personality disorder was introduced into DSM-IV's appendix amid controversy. While that disorder appears to be a reliable and valid one, the authors offer new data about its relationship to major depression, dysthymic disorder, and other personality disorders.


The authors assessed 54 subjects with early-onset, long-standing mild depressive features for depressive personality disorder, axis I and axis II disorders, family history, and treatment history; they conducted follow-up interviews 1 year after the baseline assessment. Subjects with (N=30) and without (N=24) depressive personality disorder were characterized and compared in terms of those variables.


Although depressive personality disorder and dysthymia co-occurred in some subjects, 63% of subjects with depressive personality disorder did not have dysthymia, and 60% did not have current major depression. Although subjects with depressive personality disorder were more likely than the mood disorder comparison group to have another personality disorder, 40% had no such disorder. Contrary to study hypotheses, mood disorder was not more common in first-degree relatives of subjects with depressive personality disorder than in relatives of the comparison group. Subjects with and without depressive personality disorder had similar rates of past treatment with medication and psychotherapy; however, the duration of psychotherapy was significantly longer for subjects with than for those without depressive personality. The depressive personality diagnosis was relatively stable over the 1-year follow-up period.


Depressive personality disorder appears to be a relatively stable condition with incomplete overlap with axis I mood disorders and personality disorders. Further studies are needed to better characterize its treatment response and relationship to axis I mood disorders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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