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Somatic symptoms are extremely common features of depression and other mental disorders in African countries such as Nigeria, buttheir weight in the diagnosis of depression is not certain.
To determine what weight should be assigned to these symptoms in comparison with other well-known symptoms in the diagnosis of depression.
A sample of 829 persons completed the Patient Health Questionnaire which was earlier modified by the inclusion of the somatic symptoms being studied. Using principal component analysis and a logistic regression model, the contributions of these symptoms in comparison with others were determined.
Core depressive symptoms accounted for most of the total variance for depression. The somatic symptoms studied loaded separately from the core depressive symptoms and were not as good predictors of depression. A cognitive factor emerged as well as some somatic factors.
Although somatic symptoms may be florid among patients with depression, they have considerably less weight than core depressive symptoms in the diagnosis of depression. The emerging cognitive factor could be similar to that described by previous authors.
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