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Physical Components of Depression and Psychomotor Retardation

Yves Lecrubier, MD

Published: June 15, 2006

Article Abstract

The role of somatic symptoms in patients with depression has been historically underestimated andunderrecognized. Results of the World Health Organization Collaborative Project on psychologicalproblems in general health care have established somatization as a frequently cited feature of depressionin patients seen by primary care physicians, and a number of ensuing studies have supportedthese 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, includingback and chest pain, abdominal pain, headache, fatigue, and weakness, than do patients with generalanxiety and patients with no psychiatric diagnosis. Additional studies have reported a correlationbetween depression and psychomotor retardation, indicating that psychomotor retardation comprisesa much broader spectrum of depression than was originally thought. To date, this research has focusedprimarily on the Parkinsonian-like gait and stride observed in patients with depression comparedwith the normal gait and stride observed among healthy control subjects. In addition, data have indicatedsignificantly improved psychomotor retardation in patients with depression after 3 months oftreatment.

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