It is estimated that 40% of patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) are clinically depressed, however, little is known about the frequency and associated features of subthreshold depression in PD. The current study sought to determine the prevalence of subthreshold depression (sD) and to further characterize the associated features in a sample of 111 nondemented patients with moderate to severe PD.
Patients were classified into the following groups: diagnostic depression (DD), subthreshold depression (sD), or nondepressed (ND) by applying the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 4th edn criteria for depression and previously reported criteria for sD to items from the Beck Depression Inventory, 2nd edn. These groups were compared on clinical and demographic variables. The symptom profile of the sD group is also described.
Fifty participants (45.0%) were classified as ND, 32 (28.8%) as sD, and 29 (26.1%) as DD. Patients with sD were younger (approximately 5 yrs) than nondepressed patients, but did not differ in disease stage or any other demographic variables. Patients with sD tended to endorse mood symptoms that overlap with PD, including fatigue, sleep difficulties, appetite dysfunction, and concentration difficulties. These symptoms were also endorsed with high frequency by the other groups.
These findings suggest that sD is not uncommon in PD and may be more prevalent among younger patients. The finding that sD patients report mood symptoms that overlap with the PD symptomatology suggests that these two entities share common features and may be difficult to disentangle.