Best Depression Treatment Targets Four Main Symptoms

Suicidal thoughts, hypersomnia and changes in appetite have the lowest symptom strength.

Suicidal thoughts, hypersomnia and changes in appetite have the lowest symptom strength.

Four symptoms are particularly important in the development of clinical depression, according to new research.

These are:

  1. Loss of interest/pleasure,
  2. depressed mood,
  3. fatigue,
  4. and concentration problems.

Although depression has many symptoms, some are more central than others.

These four emerged as the most central symptoms in that they were more strongly linked to other less common symptoms.

They were also the most likely to predict the onset of Major Depressive Disorder (commonly known simply as depression or clinical depression).

The results come from a study which included data from 501 people who had no symptoms of depression or anxiety at the beginning.

The authors describe the results:

 “…overall, symptom strength was the highest for fatigue, concentration problems, loss of interest/pleasure and depressed mood.

In contrast, hypersomnia, suicidal thoughts and a decrease in weight/appetite had the lowest symptom strength.”

The study also suggests that targeting these symptoms may be the best way to treat depression:

“… a strategy that encourages a person to engage in pleasant activities does not only have the potential to improve (or prevent) a person’s ability to experience pleasure (symptom ‘loss of interest/pleasure’) but, subsequently, also his or her energy level (connected symptoms ‘fatigue’ and ‘psychomotor retardation’) and ability to concentrate (connected symptom ‘concentration problems’).”

This study confirms the work of previous research.

The new study was published in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics (Boschloo et al., 2016).

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Author: Jeremy Dean

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology. He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book "Making Habits, Breaking Habits" (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks.