Epistemological and methodological significance of quantitative studies of psychomotor activity for the explanation of clinical depression

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Rationale, aims and objectivesPsychomotor disturbances have been regarded as cardinal symptoms of depression for centuries and their objective assessment may have predictive value with respect to the severity of clinical depression, treatment outcome and prognosis of the affective disorder.MethodsMontgomery–Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) and Hamilton Rating Scale for Anxiety (HAM-A). Psychomotor indicators of activity and reactivity were objectively recorded and measured by means of computerized ultrasonographic craniocorpography.ResultsWe found a statistically significant correlation between disturbances in psychomotor indicators and MADRS total score (r=0.4; P<0.0001). The severity of HAM-A total score had no statistically significant correlation with psychomotor indicators (P>0.05). We found that different items of MADRS and HAM-A correlated with psychomotor disturbances of different strength and significance. Objectively, measured psychomotor retardation was associated with greater severity of depressive symptoms assessed at the clinical level.ConclusionsIntegration between different methods is needed in order to improve understanding of the psychopathology and the neurobiology of a disputable diagnosis such as clinical depression.

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