Two-week neurasthenic major depression

  • Jules AngstEmail author
  • Vladeta Ajdacic-Gross
  • Wulf Rössler
Original Paper


The relationship between the two syndromes neurasthenia and depression is of interest in the context of burnout, which, although not a diagnosis, is often treated in psychiatry. This study defines major depressive episodes according to DSM-5 and neurasthenia by ICD-10 symptom criteria, and both syndromes on the basis of a 2-week minimum duration. The study includes all subjects of the Zurich epidemiological study who had taken part in the last five interviews (1986–2008) and compares three groups, pure depression, pure neurasthenia and their combination (neurasthenic depression), applying nonparametric statistics. The three groups did not differ in common validators: age of onset, course, a family history for depression and anxiety/panic. Psychiatric comorbidity was also very similar, with the exception of suicide attempts and substance abuse, which were less frequent in the pure neurasthenic group. Somatic comorbidity was also highly comparable, except for stomach problems, which were more common in subjects with neurasthenic syndromes. Surprisingly, the well-known preponderance of depression in women was explained by the association with neurasthenic syndromes. The proposed new diagnosis of neurasthenic depression could help diagnose subjects treated for burnout but needs replication by other representative studies.


Neurasthenia Depression Neurasthenic depression Gender 



This work was supported by Grant numbers 3200-050881.97/1 and 32-50881.97 of the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jules Angst
    • 1
    Email author
  • Vladeta Ajdacic-Gross
    • 1
  • Wulf Rössler
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, Psychiatric HospitalUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Collegium Helveticum, a Joint Research Institute between the University of Zurich and ETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  3. 3.Institute of Psychiatry, Laboratory of Neuroscience (LIM 27)University of Sao PauloSao PauloBrazil

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