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The structure of the symptoms of major depression: exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis in depressed Han Chinese women

  • Y. Li (a1), S. Aggen (a2), S. Shi (a3) (a4), J. Gao (a5), Y. Li (a6), M. Tao (a7), K. Zhang (a8), X. Wang (a9), C. Gao (a10), L. Yang (a11), Y. Liu (a12), K. Li (a13), J. Shi (a14), G. Wang (a15), L. Liu (a16), J. Zhang (a17), B. Du (a18), G. Jiang (a19), J. Shen (a20), Z. Zhang (a21), W. Liang (a22), J. Sun (a23), J. Hu (a24), T. Liu (a25), X. Wang (a26), G. Miao (a27), H. Meng (a28), Y. Li (a29), C. Hu (a30), Y. Li (a31), G. Huang (a32), G. Li (a33), B. Ha (a34), H. Deng (a35), Q. Mei (a36), H. Zhong (a37), S. Gao (a38), H. Sang (a39), Y. Zhang (a40), X. Fang (a41), F. Yu (a42), D. Yang (a43), T. Liu (a44), Y. Chen (a45), X. Hong (a46), W. Wu (a47), G. Chen (a48), M. Cai (a49), Y. Song (a50), J. Pan (a51), J. Dong (a52), R. Pan (a53), W. Zhang (a54), Z. Shen (a55), Z. Liu (a56), D. Gu (a57), X. Wang (a58), X. Liu (a59), Q. Zhang (a60), J. Flint (a1) and K. S. Kendler (a2)...

Abstract

Background

The symptoms of major depression (MD) are clinically diverse. Do they form coherent factors that might clarify the underlying nature of this important psychiatric syndrome?

Method

Symptoms at lifetime worst depressive episode were assessed at structured psychiatric interview in 6008 women of Han Chinese descent, age ⩾30 years with recurrent DSM-IV MD. Exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and confirmatoryfactor analysis (CFA) were performed in Mplus in random split-half samples.

Results

The preliminary EFA results were consistently supported by the findings from CFA. Analyses of the nine DSM-IV MD symptomatic A criteria revealed two factors loading on: (i) general depressive symptoms; and (ii) guilt/suicidal ideation. Examining 14 disaggregated DSM-IV criteria revealed three factors reflecting: (i) weight/appetite disturbance; (ii) general depressive symptoms; and (iii) sleep disturbance. Using all symptoms (n = 27), we identified five factors that reflected: (i) weight/appetite symptoms; (ii) general retarded depressive symptoms; (iii) atypical vegetative symptoms; (iv) suicidality/hopelessness; and (v) symptoms of agitation and anxiety.

Conclusions

MD is a clinically complex syndrome with several underlying correlated symptom dimensions. In addition to a general depressive symptom factor, a complete picture must include factors reflecting typical/atypical vegetative symptoms, cognitive symptoms (hopelessness/suicidal ideation), and an agitated symptom factor characterized by anxiety, guilt, helplessness and irritability. Prior cross-cultural studies, factor analyses of MD in Western populations and empirical findings in this sample showing risk factor profiles similar to those seen in Western populations suggest that our results are likely to be broadly representative of the human depressive syndrome.

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Copyright

The online version of this article is published within an Open Access environment subject to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license .

Corresponding author

* Address for correspondence: K. S. Kendler, M.D., Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics of VCU, Box 980126, Richmond, VA 23298-0126, USA. (Email: kendler@vcu.edu)

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