Psychomotor symptoms in depression: a diagnostic, pathophysiological and therapeutic tool
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Journal of affective disorders. - Amsterdam
, p. 1-20
University of Antwerp
Background Psychomotor disturbances have been described repeatedly over many centuries. More recently, Sobin and Sackeim [Sobin, C., Sackeim, H.A., 1997. Psychomotor symptoms of depression. Am. J. Psychiatry. 154, 417.] discussed the relevance of psychomotor symptoms in depression in an extensive review. Since their report, new pathophysiological, diagnostic and therapeutic findings have been published. In the current review of the recent literature, we aim to argue the importance of psychomotor symptoms in depression and propose directions for future research. Method A review of all the relevant reports on this topic, published between 1996 and 2006, was conducted. Results Several assessment methods demonstrate the diagnostic and pathophysiological significance of psychomotor symptoms. Antidepressants show differential effects on psychomotor performance and findings concerning the symptoms' predictive capacity for clinical response are contradictory. Numerous imaging studies as well as studies on the neurotransmitter systems and the HPA-axis contribute to the elucidation of the neurobiological processes underlying impaired psychomotor functioning in depression. Conclusions Psychomotor disturbances are of great diagnostic significance for the depressive subtype of melancholia. To enhance the conceptualisation of the construct psychomotor a standardised battery for their assessment is recommended. As to the symptoms' predictive therapeutic power, to date research into functional outcome and studies applying objective experimental assessment methods are lacking. Moreover, the reported pathophysiological importance of dopamine for retarded depression still warrants translation to the daily practice.