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Vol. 36, No. 6, 2003
Issue release date: November–December 2003
Psychopathology 2003;36:285–291

Subtypes of Depressive Episodes According to ICD-10: Prediction of Risk of Relapse and Suicide

Kessing L.V.
Department of Psychiatry, University of Copenhagen, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, and Department of Psychiatric Demography, University of Aarhus, Psychiatric Hospital, Risskov, Denmark

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Background: The long-term predictive ability of the ICD-10 subtypes of depression with melancholic syndrome and depression with psychosis has not been investigated. Sampling and Methods: All patients in Denmark who had a diagnosis of a single depressive episode at their first ever discharge during a period from 1994 to 1999 were identified. The risk of relapse leading to readmission and the risk of committing suicide were compared for patients discharged with an ICD-10 diagnosis of a single depressive episode with and without melancholic syndrome and for patients with and without psychotic symptoms, respectively. Results: In all, 1,639 patients had a diagnosis of depressive episode without psychotic symptoms, 1,275 patients a diagnosis with psychotic symptoms, 293 a diagnosis without melancholic syndrome, and 248 a diagnosis with melancholic symptoms at first discharge. The risk of relapse leading to readmission was greater for patients with psychotic symptoms than for patients without, but no difference was found between the two groups in the risk of committing suicide during follow-up. No differences were found in the risk of relapse leading to readmission or suicide between patients with and without melancholic syndrome. Conclusions: The ICD-10 categorization into depression with and without psychotic symptoms seems to be clinically and prognostically useful, whereas the ICD-10 subtyping into melancholic and non-melancholic syndrome does not seem to have any long-term predictive value.

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