Functional disability as a measure of severity in depressive disorders
Background: Good level of functioning is an asset that individuals have used to create wealth and perform social activities. Depressive disorders, no matter how mild, have a negative toll on how individuals perform or enjoy such social or economic endowments. The study was aimed at determining the relationship between severity of depression and global functioning.
Methods: The cross-sectional study included 100 depressed adult outpatients. A variety of measures including the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI) was used to diagnose depression while the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD) and Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) scale were used to rate the severity of depression and measure the degree of functioning respectively.
Results: Forty-two percent of the study participants were still depressed. Out of this number, 47.6% were in remission, 40.5% had mild symptoms while 7.1% and 4.8% had moderate and severe depressive symptoms respectively. Majority (93.1%) of those who had achieved full remission exhibited superior functioning compared to those who were still experiencing one symptom or the other. A statistically significant association (p<0.001) was found between severity of depression and level of functioning.
Conclusion: Severe depression is associated with poor functioning among patients. Functional improvement should therefore be one of the targets of treatment by physicians.
Key words: Functioning; Severity; Depressive disorders