Predictors of somatic symptoms in depressive disorder

Sayar K., Kirmayer L., Taillefer S.

GENERAL HOSPITAL PSYCHIATRY, vol.25, no.2, pp.108-114, 2003 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 25 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2003
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/s0163-8343(02)00277-3
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.108-114
  • Karadeniz Technical University Affiliated: No


We explored the relative contribution of potential psychological predictors of somatic symptoms in outpatients with major depressive disorder, including; 1) severity of depression; 2) general anxiety; 3) hypochondriacal worry; 4) somatosensory amplification; and, 5) alexithymia by sampling 100 consecutive outpatients with DSM-IV diagnoses of major depressive disorder attending the psychiatry clinics of general hospitals in Turkey. The subjects were rated by clinicians on depressive symptomatology (Hamilton Depression Rating Scale), and anxiety (Hamilton Anxiety Scale), and completed self-report measures of Hypochondriacal worry (7-item version of the Whiteley Index), the Somatosensory Amplification Scale, and the Toronto Alexithymia Scale. Multivariate models tested the independent contribution of each of the scales to the level of somatic symptoms as measured by a modified version of the SCL-90 somatization scale. At the bivariate level, somatic symptoms were associated with female gender and lower educational level, as well as the Hamilton Depression and Anxiety scales, the Whitely Index, and the Somatosensory Amplification and Alexithymia scales. In multiple regression models incorporating all variables, female gender and higher scores on the anxiety, somatosensory amplification and alexithymia scales all made independent contributions to the level of somatic symptoms and accounted for 54% of the variance. Therefore, somatic symptoms in depression are related to concomitant anxiety, tendency to amplify somatic distress, and difficulty identifying and communicating emotional distress. However, these factors do not account for the tendency for women to report more somatic symptoms. 2003 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved.