A comparison of the clinical characteristics of women with recurrent major depression with and without suicidal symptomatology

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Abstract

Background

The relationship between recurrent major depression (MD) in women and suicidality is complex. We investigated the extent to which patients who suffered with various forms of suicidal symptomatology can be distinguished from those subjects without such symptoms.

Method

We examined the clinical features of the worst episode in 1970 Han Chinese women with recurrent DSM-IV MD between the ages of 30 and 60 years from across China. Student's t tests, and logistic and multiple logistic regression models were used to determine the association between suicidality and other clinical features of MD.

Results

Suicidal symptomatology is significantly associated with a more severe form of MD, as indexed by both the number of episodes and number of MD symptoms. Patients reporting suicidal thoughts, plans or attempts experienced a significantly greater number of stressful life events. The depressive symptom most strongly associated with lifetime suicide attempt was feelings of worthlessness (odds ratio 4.25, 95% confidence interval 2.9–6.3). Excessive guilt, diminished concentration and impaired decision-making were also significantly associated with a suicide attempt.

Conclusions

This study contributes to the existing literature on risk factors for suicidal symptomatology in depressed women. Identifying specific depressive symptoms and co-morbid psychiatric disorders may help improve the clinical assessment of suicide risk in depressed patients. These findings could be helpful in identifying those who need more intense treatment strategies in order to prevent suicide.

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