Gastrointestinal Symptoms Common in Major Depressive Disorder, Study Shows

Gastrointestinal symptoms are common in people who have major depressive disorder (MDD), a study in the Journal of Affective Disorders has found.

Fang Y and colleagues analyzed data from 3,256 MDD patients aged 18 years and older from the National Survey on Symptomatology of Depression. As part of the survey, patients were asked how often over the last two weeks they experienced depressive symptoms and gastrointestinal symptoms. Fang and colleagues compared the occurrence of gastrointestinal symptoms with the occurrence of depressive episodes in these patients.

The researchers found that more than 70% of patients experienced gastrointestinal symptoms during depressive episodes. Thirty-eight percent had a frequency of gastrointestinal symptoms “several days,” 23% had a frequency of symptoms “more than half of all days,” and nearly 10% had a frequency of symptoms “nearly every day” during their depressive episodes.

The researchers also found that a higher frequency of gastrointestinal symptoms was associated with an increased risk of psychological symptoms such as suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, anxious mood, depressed mood, insomnia, and feeling like a failure.

“[T]hese results suggest that [gastrointestinal] symptoms might be consistently associated with the onset and clinical severity of depression, which could be used as a useful auxiliary indicator in the clinical management of [major depressive disorder],” they wrote.

For related information, see Chapter 19 on Gastrointestinal Disorders in The American Psychiatric Association Publishing Textbook of Psychosomatic Medicine and Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry, Third Edition.

 

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