Physical symptoms of depression may be misdiagnosed

July 16, 2004

A study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine revealed that physicians sometimes misattribute ill-defined physical symptoms to causes other than what may actually be depression. Patients complaining of physical ailments related to depression may not receive appropriate treatment from their doctors, as compared to patients who present with psychological symptoms.

Palpitations, hot flashes, chest pains, or problems with appetite, can be overlooked as signs of depression, according to a study of 200 adults. The study focused on a secondary analysis of patients beginning a new treatment episode for depression, and evaluated the effects of treatment as a result of physical versus psychological symptoms presented.

"While we are aware that current depression treatment is most often ineffective," offers author Dr. Robert D. Keeley, "we attempted to define the patient group that does not receive appropriate treatment, or does not respond to adequate treatment, by returning to the basic medical tenet of listening to the patient." The findings pointed out that physicians sometimes misattribute ill-defined physical symptoms to causes other than depression.

The most effective treatments, regardless of symptoms, were successful because they matched patient preference. Patients who had physical symptoms of depression were less likely to agree with a medical diagnosis of depression and thus tended to be nonaccepting of antidepressants, while 72% of patients with psychological symptoms who were presented with antidepressants as a treatment showed improved outcomes.

The study concludes that physicians need to search for new or modified interventions for depression when treating a patient with physical symptoms to improve the outcome.

Media wishing to receive a pdf of this article please contact medicalnews@bos.blackwellpublishing.net.
-end-
About the Author

Dr. Robert D. Keeley received his M.D. from Stanford University School of Medicine in 1994. He resides in Longmont, Colorado and has received multiple awards in the areas of Neuroscience, Primary Care Research and Family Practice. Dr. Keeley is available for questions and interviews and can be reached at RobKeeley@pol.net or 303-775-0812.

About the Journal of General Internal Medicine

The Journal of General Internal Medicine (JGIM) is the official scientific publication of the Society of General Internal Medicine, whose mission is to promote improved patient care, research, and education in primary care and general internal medicine. JGIM articles focus on topics such as clinical research, curriculum development, epidemiology, prevention, and health care delivery in general internal medicine.

About Blackwell Publishing

Blackwell Publishing is the world's leading, independent society publisher with offices in the US, UK, Japan, Denmark, Australia, and Germany. Blackwell publishes over 700 journals in partnership with more than 550 academic and professional societies.

Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Related Depression Articles from Brightsurf:

Children with social anxiety, maternal history of depression more likely to develop depression
Although researchers have known for decades that depression runs in families, new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York, suggests that children suffering from social anxiety may be at particular risk for depression in the future.

Depression and use of marijuana among US adults
This study examined the association of depression with cannabis use among US adults and the trends for this association from 2005 to 2016.

Maternal depression increases odds of depression in offspring, study shows
Depression in mothers during and after pregnancy increased the odds of depression in offspring during adolescence and adulthood by 70%.

Targeting depression: Researchers ID symptom-specific targets for treatment of depression
For the first time, physician-scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have identified two clusters of depressive symptoms that responded to two distinct neuroanatomical treatment targets in patients who underwent transcranial magnetic brain stimulation (TMS) for treatment of depression.

A biological mechanism for depression
Researchers report that in depressed individuals there are increased amounts of an unmodified structural protein, called tubulin, in lipid rafts compared with non-depressed individuals.

Depression in adults who are overweight or obese
In an analysis of primary care records of 519,513 UK adults who were overweight or obese between 2000-2016 and followed up until 2019, the incidence of new cases of depression was 92 per 10,000 people per year.

Why stress doesn't always cause depression
Rats susceptible to anhedonia, a core symptom of depression, possess more serotonin neurons after being exposed to chronic stress, but the effect can be reversed through amygdala activation, according to new research in JNeurosci.

Which comes first: Smartphone dependency or depression?
New research suggests a person's reliance on his or her smartphone predicts greater loneliness and depressive symptoms, as opposed to the other way around.

Depression breakthrough
Major depressive disorder -- referred to colloquially as the 'black dog' -- has been identified as a genetic cause for 20 distinct diseases, providing vital information to help detect and manage high rates of physical illnesses in people diagnosed with depression.

CPAP provides relief from depression
Researchers have found that continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can improve depression symptoms in patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases.

Read More: Depression News and Depression Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.