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Atypical depression: current perspectives

Authors Łojko D, Rybakowski JK

Received 26 July 2017

Accepted for publication 18 August 2017

Published 20 September 2017 Volume 2017:13 Pages 2447—2456

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S147317

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Prof. Dr. Roumen Kirov

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Roger Pinder


Dorota Łojko,1 Janusz K Rybakowski1,2

1Department of Adult Psychiatry, 2Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Poznan University of Medical Sciences, Poznan, Poland

Abstract: The history and present status of the definition, prevalence, neurobiology, and treatment of atypical depression (AD) is presented. The concept of AD has evolved through the years, and currently, in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), Fifth Edition, the specifier of depressive episode with atypical feature is present for both diagnostic groups, that is, depressive disorders and bipolar and related disorders. This specifier includes mood reactivity, hyperphagia, hypersomnia, leaden paralysis, and interpersonal rejection sensitivity. Prevalence rates of AD are variable, depending on the criteria, methodology, and settings. The results of epidemiological studies using DSM criteria suggest that 15%–29% of depressed patients have AD, and the results of clinical studies point to a prevalence of 18%–36%. A relationship of AD with bipolar depression, seasonal depression, and obesity has also been postulated. Pathogenic research has been mostly focused on distinguishing AD from melancholic depression. The differences have been found in biochemical studies in the areas of hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, inflammatory markers, and the leptin system, although the results obtained are frequently controversial. A number of findings concerning such differences have also been obtained using neuroimaging and neurophysiological and neuropsychological methods. An initial concept of AD as a preferentially monoamine oxidase inhibitor-responsive depression, although confirmed in some further studies, is of limited use nowadays. Currently, despite numerous drug trials, there are no comprehensive treatment guidelines for AD. We finalize the article by describing the future research perspectives for the definition, neurobiology, and treatment. A better specification of diagnostic criteria and description of clinical picture, a genome-wide association study of AD, and establishing updated treatment recommendations for this clinical phenomenon should be the priorities for the coming years.

Keywords: hypersomnia, hyperphagia, obesity, bipolar disorder, seasonal affective disorder

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