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December 1978

Toward a Biochemical Classification of Depressive DisordersII. Application of Multivariate Discriminant Function Analysis to Data on Urinary Catecholamines and Metabolites

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston (Drs Schildkraut, Orsulak, Schatzberg, Gudeman, Cole, and Rohde); the Neuropsychopharmacology Laboratory (Drs Schildkraut and Orsulak) and the Department of Adult Services (Dr Gudeman), Massachusetts Mental Health Center, Boston; the Departments of Psychiatry (Drs Schatzberg and Rohde) and Psychopharmacology (Dr Cole), McLean Hospital, Belmont, Mass; and LaBrie Associates, Cambridge, Mass (Dr LaBrie).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1978;35(12):1436-1439. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1978.01770360040004

• The previous article in this series reported on the differences in urinary excretion of 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylglycol (MHPG) in patients with various clinically defined subtypes of depressive disorders. We now report that further biochemical discrimination among depressive subtypes is provided by the following equation, derived empirically by applying multivariate discriminant function analysis to data on urinary catecholamine metabolites:

Depression-type (D-type) score =  C,(MHPG) + C2(VMA) + C,(NE) + C,(NMN + MN)/VMA + C0 In the original derivation of this equation, low scores were related to bipolar manic-depressive depressions, and high scores were related to unipolar nonendogenous (chronic characterological) depressions. Findings from a series of depressed patients whose biochemical data had not been used to derive this equation confirmed these differences in D-type scores among subtypes of depressions. The findings presented in this report further suggest that we can discriminate three biochemically discrete subgroups of depressive disorders.