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date: 23 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Major depression and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) represent heterogeneous combinations of symptoms. Analyses focusing on these distinctive symptom dimensions can play an important role in explicating key diagnostic phenomena such as comorbidity. We review depression and PTSD from the perspective of the quadripartite model, which posits that it is important to consider two quantitative elements when analyzing the properties of symptoms: (a) the magnitude of their general distress component and (b) their level of specificity. Within both disorders, we identified certain symptoms—insomnia and appetite disturbance in the case of depression, dysphoria within PTSD—that both (a) exhibited poor diagnostic specificity and (b) provided little or no incremental information to their respective diagnoses. We therefore argue that deemphasizing these weak and nonspecific indicators and focusing primarily on more specific types of symptoms potentially can improve the diagnosis and assessment of these disorders.

Keywords: major depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, comorbidity, general distress, symptom specificity, dysphoria, diagnosis, assessment

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