The British Journal of Psychiatry


Systematic and detailed psychopathological examination of 400 consecutive primary major depressives failed to confirm common clinical stereotypes which ascribe greater somatisation, hypochondriasis, agitation, psychotic tendencies, and chronicity to old age. Those above 65 were more likely to suffer from single episodes of depression that were often precipitated, whereas subjects whose illness began earlier were more likely to express depression as part of a recurrent unipolar or bipolar disorder, with higher rates of affective temperamental pathology and familial affective illness. The acute clinical picture was relatively uniform in older and younger depressives and, taken together with the other findings, tends to favour a spectrum model of primary mood disorders.