Long-term course of severe depression: late remission and recurrence may be found in a follow-up after 38-53 years

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Lisa Crona
Louise Brådvik *
(*) Corresponding Author:
Louise Brådvik | louise@bradvik.se


This study is a follow-up of inpatients diagnosed with severe depression/melancholia between 1956 and 1969. During this period, all inpatients at the Department of Psychiatry, University Hospital, Lund, were rated on a multidimensional diagnostic schedule on discharge. There were 471 patients born from 1920 onward. In the present follow-up, 2006 to 2010, 169 survivors could be traced. They were asked to participate in the study involving a telephone interview, in which a structured life chart was used. Of the patients contacted, 16 were ill or confused and 3 did not remember ever being depressed, leaving 150 who could participate. Seventy-five of these agreed to participate in the study. Long-term course of depression was evaluated by cluster analysis and compared to background variables, such as heredity for depression, perceived parental rearing behaviour, and treatment of index depressive episode. Using a cluster analysis the patients could be separated into six clusters describing the course: i) single or few episodes followed by long-lasting remission; ii) single or few episodes followed by long-lasting remission, although shorter; iii) single or few episodes followed by late recurrence; iv) single or few episodes, but more frequently ill, followed by late recurrence; v) several episodes followed by lasting remission; vi) chronic course of episodes. Remission or recurrence could there- fore occur even after more than a decade. In summary, there was a short-term course with or without recurrence or a chronic course with or without late remission. Heredity for depression was significantly related to a chronic course with or without late remission.

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