SYMPTOM AND FUNCTIONAL TRAITS OF BRIEF MAJOR DEPRESSIVE EPISODES AND DISCRIMINATION OF BEREAVEMENT


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Abstract

Background:Despite the removal of the bereavement exclusion from DSM-5, clinicians may feel uncertain on how to proceed when caring for a patient who presents with depressive symptoms following the death of someone close. The ability to better distinguish, on a symptom and functional level, between patients who experience depression in the context of bereavement and those with nonbereavement-related depression, could help guide clinical decision making.Method:Individual and clustered depressive symptom and impairment measures were used for modeling bereavement status within a nationally representative longitudinal cohort. Deviance, linear shrinkage factor, and bias-corrected c-statistic were used for identifying a well-calibrated and discriminating final model.Results:Of the 450 (1.2%) respondents with a single brief major depressive episode, 162 (38.4%) reported the episode as bereavement-related. The bereaved were less likely to endorse worthlessness (P < .001), social conflict (P < .001), distress (P < .001), thoughts of suicide (P = .001), wanting to die (P = .01), self-medicating (P = .01), and being withdrawn (P = .04). In a multivariate model, the bereaved were more likely to have thoughts of their own death (P = .003), guilt coupled with weight or appetite loss (P = .013), and were less likely to report social conflict (P < .001), worthlessness coupled with difficulty making decisions (P < .001), thoughts of suicide (P = .006), distress coupled with weight or appetite gain (P = .022), and self-medicating (P = .045).Conclusions:Traits and trait combinations differentiate individuals who experience brief depressive episodes following the death of a loved one from other brief episodes. These differences can help guide clinical care of patients who present with depressive symptoms shortly after a loved one's death.

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