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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Terre, Lisa
item Poston, Walker
item Foreyt, John
item St. Jeor, Sachiko

Submitted to: Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/1/2003
Publication Date: 9/1/2003
Citation: Terre, L., Poston, W.S.C., Foreyt, J., St. Jeor, S.T. 2003. Do somatic complaints predict subsequent symptoms of depression? Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. 72(5):261-267.

Interpretive Summary: This study examined the relationship between physical symptoms of distress and the development of depression 5 years later. Physical distress predicted symptoms of depression in women but not in men. Other factors such as income and age exerted a stronger contribution. These finding significantly advance knowledge of risk factors associated with the development of this disorder.

Technical Abstract: Evidence suggests substantial comorbidity between symptoms of somatization and depression in clinical as well as nonclinical populations. However, as most existing research has been retrospective or cross-sectional in design, very little is known about the specific nature of this relationship. In particular, it is unclear whether somatic complaints may heighten the risk for the subsequent development of depressive symptoms. We report findings on the link between symptoms of somatization (assessed using the SCL-90-R) and depression 5 years later (assessed using the CES-D) in an initially healthy cohort of community adults, based on prospective data from the RENO Diet-Heart Study. Gender-stratified multiple regression analyses revealed that baseline CES-D scores were the best predictors of subsequent depressive symptoms for men and women. Baseline scores on the SCL-90-R somatization subscale significantly predicted subsequent self-reported symptoms of depressed mood 5 years later, but only in women. However, somatic complaints were a somewhat less powerful predictor than income and age. Our findings suggest that somatic complaints may represent one, but not necessarily the most important, risk factor for the subsequent development.

Last Modified: 06/23/2017
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