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Depression Research and Treatment
Volume 2012, Article ID 630206, 6 pages
Research Article

Which Depressive Symptoms and Medication Side Effects Are Perceived by Patients as Interfering Most with Occupational Functioning?

Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program, Department of Psychiatry, Mood Disorders Centre, UBC Hospital, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 2A1

Received 2 February 2012; Accepted 29 February 2012

Academic Editor: H. Grunze

Copyright © 2012 Raymond W. Lam et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Major depressive disorder (MDD) is associated with significant impairment in occupational functioning. This study sought to determine which depressive symptoms and medication side effects were perceived by patients with MDD to have the greatest interference on work functioning. Methods. 164 consecutive patients with MDD by DSM-IV criteria completed a standard assessment that included a self-rated questionnaire about the degree to which symptoms and side effects interfered with work functioning. Results. The symptoms perceived by patients as interfering most with work functioning were fatigue and low energy, insomnia, concentration and memory problems, anxiety, and irritability. The medication side effects rated as interfering most with work functioning were daytime sedation, insomnia, headache, and agitation/anxiety. There were no differences between men and women in symptoms or side effects that were perceived as interfering with work functioning. Limitations. This was a cross-sectional study; only subjective assessments of work functioning were obtained; the fact that patients were using varied medications acts as a potential confound. Conclusions. Specific depressive symptoms and medication side effects were perceived by patients as interfering more with occupational functioning than others. These factors should be considered in treatment selection (e.g., in the choice of antidepressant) in working patients with MDD.