Medline ® Abstracts for References 6,7
of 'Screening for depression in adults'
The importance of somatic symptoms in depression in primary care.
Tylee A, Gandhi P
Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2005;7(4):167-76.
OBJECTIVE: Patients with depression present with psychological and somatic symptoms, including general aches and pains. In primary care, somatic symptoms often dominate. A review of the literature was conducted to ascertain the importance of somatic symptoms in depression in primary care.
DATA SOURCES AND EXTRACTION: MEDLINE, EMBASE, and PsychLIT/PsychINFO databases (1985-January 2004) were searched for the terms depression, depressive, depressed AND physical, somatic, unexplained symptoms, complaints, problems; somatised, somatized symptoms; somatisation, somatization, somatoform, psychosomatic; pain; recognition, under-recognition; diagnosis, underdiagnosis; acknowledgment, under-acknowledgment; treatment, undertreatment AND primary care, ambulatory care; primary physician; office; general practice; attribution, re-attribution; and normalising, normalizing. Only English-language publications and abstracts were considered.
STUDY SELECTION: More than 80 papers related to somatic symptoms in depression were identified using the content of their titles and abstracts.
DATA SYNTHESIS: Approximately two thirds of patients with depression in primary care present with somatic symptoms. These patients are difficult to diagnose, feel an increased burden of disease, rely heavily on health care services, and are harder to treat. Patient and physician factors that prevent discussion of psychological symptoms during consultations must be overcome.
CONCLUSIONS: Educational initiatives that raise awareness of somatic symptoms in depression and help patients to re-attribute these symptoms should help to improve the recognition of depression in primary care.
Institute of Psychiatry, Health Services Research Department, Denmark Hill, London, UK. firstname.lastname@example.org
An international study of the relation between somatic symptoms and depression.
Simon GE, VonKorff M, Piccinelli M, Fullerton C, Ormel J
N Engl J Med. 1999;341(18):1329.
BACKGROUND AND METHODS: Patients with depression, particularly those seen by primary care physicians, may report somatic symptoms, such as headache, constipation, weakness, or back pain. Some previous studies have suggested that patients in non-Western countries are more likely to report somatic symptoms than are patients in Western countries. We used data from the World Health Organization's study of psychological problems in general health care to examine the relation between somatic symptoms and depression. The study, conducted in 1991 and 1992, screened 25,916 patients at 15 primary care centers in 14 countries on 5 continents. Of the patients in the original sample, 5447 underwent a structured assessment of depressive and somatoform disorders.
RESULTS: A total of 1146 patients (weighted prevalence, 10.1 percent) met the criteria for major depression. The range of patients with depression who reported only somatic symptoms was 45 to 95 percent (overall prevalence, 69 percent; P=0.002 for the comparison among centers). A somatic presentation was more common at centers where patients lacked an ongoing relationship with a primary care physician than at centers where most patients had a personal physician (odds ratio, 1.8; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.2 to 2.7). Half the depressed patients reported multiple unexplained somatic symptoms, and 11 percent denied psychological symptoms of depression on direct questioning. Neither of these proportions varied significantly among the centers. Although the overall prevalence of depressive symptoms varied markedly among the centers, the frequencies of psychological and physical symptoms were similar.
CONCLUSIONS: Somatic symptoms of depression are common in many countries, but their frequency varies depending on how somatization is defined. There is substantial variation in how frequently patients with depression present with strictly somatic symptoms. In part, this variation may reflect characteristics of physicians and health care systems, as well as cultural differences among patients.
Center for Health Studies, Group Health Cooperative, Seattle, WA 98101-1448, USA. email@example.com