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Logo of bmcpsycBioMed Centralsearchsubmit a manuscriptregisterthis articleBMC Psychiatry
BMC Psychiatry. 2012; 12: 74.
Published online 2012 July 3. doi:  10.1186/1471-244X-12-74
PMCID: PMC3416699

Depression in Dercum’s disease and in obesity: A case control study



Dercum’s disease is characterised by pronounced pain in the adipose tissue and a number of associated symptoms. The condition is usually accompanied by generalised weight gain. Many of the associated symptoms could also be signs of depression. Depression in Dercum’s disease has been reported in case reports but has never been studied using an evidence-based methodology. The aim of this study was to examine the presence of depression in patients with Dercum’s disease compared to obese controls that do not experience any pain.


A total of 111 women fulfilling the clinical criteria of Dercum’s disease were included. As controls, 40 obese healthy women were recruited. To measure depression, the Montgomery Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) was used.


According to the total MADRS score, less than half of the patients were classified as having “no depression” (44%), the majority had “light” or “moderate depression” (55%) and one individual had “severe depression” in the Dercum group. In the control groups, the majority of the patients were classified as having “no depression” (85%) and a small number had “light depression” (15%). There was a statistically significant difference for the total MADRS score between the two groups (p = 0.014).


The results indicate that the patients with Dercum’s disease are more likely to suffer from depression than controls.

Keywords: Dercum’s disease, Adiposis dolorosa, Chronic pain, Obesity, Depression, MADRS

Articles from BMC Psychiatry are provided here courtesy of BioMed Central