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Symptom-based subtypes of depression and their psychosocial correlates: a person-centered approach focusing on the influence of sex.

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2014
Author Rodgers Stephanie, Grosse Holtforth Martin, Müller Mario, Hengartner Michael P, Rössler Wulf, Ajdacic-Gross Vladeta,
Project Explicit and implicit change of depression in exposure-based cognitive therapy
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Journal of affective disorders
Volume (Issue) 156
Page(s) 92 - 103
Title of proceedings Journal of affective disorders
DOI 10.1016/j.jad.2013.11.021


BACKGROUND Reducing the complexity of major depressive disorder by symptom-based subtypes constitutes the basis of more specific treatments. To date, few studies have empirically derived symptom subtypes separated by sex, although the impact of sex has been widely accepted in depression research. METHODS The community-based sample included 373 males and 443 females from the Zurich Program for Sustainable Development of Mental Health Services (ZInEP) manifesting depressive symptoms in the past 12 months. Latent Class Analysis (LCA) was performed separately by sex to extract sex-related depression subtypes. The subtypes were characterized by psychosocial characteristics. RESULTS Three similar subtypes were found in both sexes: a severe typical subtype (males: 22.8%; females: 35.7%), a severe atypical subtype (males: 17.4%; females: 22.6%), and a moderate subtype (males: 25.2%; females: 41.8%). In males, two additional subgroups were identified: a severe irritable/angry-rejection sensitive (IARS) subtype (30%) comprising the largest group, and a small psychomotor retarded subtype (4%). Males belonging to the severe typical subtype exhibited the lowest masculine gender role orientation, while females of the typical subtype showed more anxiety disorders. The severe atypical subtype was associated with eating disorders in both sexes and with alcohol/drug abuse/dependence in females. In contrast, alcohol/drug abuse/dependence was associated with the severe IARS subtype in males. LIMITATIONS The study had a cross-sectional design, allowing for no causal inferences. CONCLUSIONS This study contributes to a better understanding of sex-related depression subtypes, which can be well distinguished on the basis of symptom profiles. This provides the base for future research investigating the etiopathogenesis and effective treatment of the heterogeneous depression disorder.