Self-reported depressive symptoms that differentiate recurrent-episode major depression from dysthymic disorders



The Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) was administered to 168 outpatients diagnosed with recurrent-episode, major-depression disorders and 99 outpatients diagnosed with dysthymic disorders. The mean ratings of 18 BDI items, except for Sense of Failure, Punishment, and Crying, were comparable in both groups; the mean total-BDI score and mean number of BDI items rated were higher for the major depressive disorders than for the dysthymic disorders. A backward stepwise-discriminant analysis revealed that Suicidal Ideas and Loss of Appetite were the two symptoms that most meaningfully distinguished between the two groups. The major depressive patients described more suicidal ideation and loss of appetite than did the dysthymic patients. The results supported the contention that self-report instruments may be useful in differentiating recurrent-episode major depression from dysthymic disorders.