Melancholic Versus Non-Melancholic Depression: a Prospective Study

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BACKGROUND: The binarian model views melancholia as a distinct depressive class, whereas the unitarian model views it as a more severe expression of depression. This study aims to investigate the sociodemographic, clinical, and course differences between melancholic and non-melancholic depression. METHODS: This prospective observational study was carried out at Kasturba Hospital, Manipal, India from November 2010 to September 2011. We recruited consecutive inpatients aged 18 to 60 years who have a diagnosis of depressive disorder (based on ICD-10), with or without any psychiatric or physical comorbidities. Patients were categorised into melancholia and non-melancholia using the CORE questionnaire, with scores of ≥8 indicating the presence of melancholic depression. In addition, patients were evaluated using the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale, Somatoform Symptom Checklist, Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale, Clinical Global Impression, and Presumptive Stressful Life Events Scale at baseline and at 1, 3, and 6 months. RESULTS: Of 87 inpatients with a diagnosis of depression, 50 met the inclusion criteria and 37 were excluded. Compared with patients with non-melancholic depression, patients with melancholic depression had higher depression score (30.8 vs 23.8, p < 0.001), had higher number of patients with psychotic depression (39.1% vs 7.4%, p = 0.007), had higher overall illness severity score (5.9 vs 4.8, p < 0.001), and had higher number of patients with suicidal ideation and suicidal behaviour. Regarding the course of melancholia, the number of melancholic patients decreased from 23 at baseline to eight at 1 month, three at 3 months, and three at 6 months. Scores of non-interactiveness, retardation, and agitation decrease significantly over 3 months. CONCLUSIONS: The construct and course of melancholia may be viewed as a part of depression, more in line with severe depression. Melancholia increases the risk for suicidal ideation and suicidal behaviour.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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