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Physical Components of Depression and Psychomotor Retardation

Yves Lecrubier, M.D.

The role of somatic symptoms in patients with depression has been historically underestimated and underrecognized. Results of the World Health Organization Collaborative Project on psychological problems in general health care have established somatization as a frequently cited feature of depression in patients seen by primary care physicians, and a number of ensuing studies have supported these data. Approximately 73% of patients with depression are affected by lack of energy and fatigue. In addition, patients with depression experience a greater number of somatic symptoms, including back and chest pain, abdominal pain, headache, fatigue, and weakness, than do patients with general anxiety and patients with no psychiatric diagnosis. Additional studies have reported a correlation between depression and psychomotor retardation, indicating that psychomotor retardation comprises a much broader spectrum of depression than was originally thought. To date, this research has focused primarily on the Parkinsonian-like gait and stride observed in patients with depression compared with the normal gait and stride observed among healthy control subjects. In addition, data have indicated significantly improved psychomotor retardation in patients with depression after 3 months of treatment.

(J Clin Psychiatry 2006;67[suppl 6]:23–26)

From the Hôpital La Salpêtriére, INSERM, Paris, France.

This article is derived from the planning roundtable "The Role of Dopamine and Norepinephrine in Depression and Antidepressant Treatment," which was held July 22, 2005, in Taplow, Berkshire, U.K., and supported by an educational grant from GlaxoSmithKline.

Corresponding author and reprints: Yves Lecrubier, M.D., 47 Bd de l’Hôpital, 75651 Paris cedex 13, France.