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August 1967

Toward a Definition of Depression

Author Affiliations

Washington, DC
From the Department of Psychology, Catholic University of America, Washington, DC.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1967;17(2):183-186. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1967.01730260055008

THERE APPEARS to be good agreement among clinicians relative to the range of symptoms characteristic of depression. The primary clinical symptoms1 are said to be a sad, despairing mood; decrease of mental productivity and reduction of drive; and retardation or agitation in motor behavior. The secondary symptoms are said to include somatic preoccupation, feelings of depersonalization, and suicidal ruminations. Sleep disturbances, anorexia, and weight loss are also associated with depressive states. On the other hand, there is less consensus as to how these symptoms group together in syndromes. In part, such disagreement arises from a lack of systematic study of the sources of individual variations, the dimensions of depression. Once these can be established firmly it should be much easier to determine how they combine to form depression subtypes. In short, a phenomenological definition of depression is needed.

A review of the literature utilizing

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