Somatic Depressive Symptoms Strongly Predict Quality of Life

lifestyle night portrait of young sad and stressed black afro American woman lying on bed upset trying to sleep suffering insomnia and depression feeling anxiety crisis and sleeping disorder problem
Age and depression were significant predictors of overall quality of life, but depression represented the strongest predictor.

Depressive symptoms, particularly somatic depressive symptoms, represent the strongest predictors of impaired quality of life (QoL) compared with other symptoms traditionally associated with poor QoL, according to study results published in Psychiatry Research.

Depressive symptoms can be highly heterogeneous, and different types of symptoms may have distinct roles in patients’ general wellbeing.

The study included 559 individuals (age range, 18-65 years) who agreed to participate in an online study on the impact of depression symptoms and other mental health conditions on QoL. The study cohort comprised university psychology students, as well as members of the wider community. Each participant provided demographic information and completed the World Health Organization QoL Brief measure (WHOQOL-BREF) questionnaire, the Brief Symptom Inventory, the Beck Depression Inventory II, and the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scales.

Age and depression were significant predictors of overall QoL, but depression represented the strongest predictor (P <.001). Somatic depressive symptoms were the strongest predictor of overall QoL compared with psychological symptoms (P <.001); however, psychological depressive symptoms also negatively predicted overall QoL.

For physical health QoL, somatization was the strongest predictor (P <.001), followed by age, gender, obsessive-compulsive depression, and phobic anxiety. In the psychological health QoL analysis, depression was the strongest predictor (P <.001). Other significant predictors of psychological health QoL included obsessive compulsive depression and interpersonal sensitivity. Depression also represented the strongest predictor of social relationships related QoL (P <.001), followed by age, gender, and psychoticism.

Limitations of this study included its cross-sectional nature as well as the inclusion of individuals from the community, rather than individuals with a mental health disorder diagnosis.

The researchers wrote that the knowledge gained from this study “could be used to improve targeted health interventions,” and that the findings further support “the importance of the encouragement of early treatment uptake for mental health symptoms, due to their relationship with overall QoL.”


Tang AL, Thomas SJ. Relationships between depressive symptoms, other psychological symptoms, and quality of life [published online May 6, 2020]. Psychiatry Res. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2020.113049.