In the September 1991 issue of the Archives, Frank et al1 stressed the necessity of consensus definitions for change points in the course of depressive illness, proposing an internally consistent, empirically defined conceptual scheme for the terms remission, recovery, relapse, and recurrence. While proposing tentative operational criteria for each term, the authors also invited others to challenge these suggestions with alternative conceptualizations, and to test the validity of these and alternative systems empirically. We would like to take up this invitation and to present some data of our own that will illustrate the impact of alternative definitions of remission on the measurement of the length of a major depressive episode. As far as we know, this report is the first to illustrate this impact with empirical data.
Patients and Methods
Sixty-six psychiatric inpatients with nonbipolar major depressive episodes according to DSMIII-R (26 single episodes and 40 unipolar recurrent episodes)