Objective. To conduct a retrospective appraisal of winter depression in out-patients treatedfor at least 5 years at the Phototherapy Unit, Department of Psychiatry II, Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology.
Method. Analysis of the medical files of 53 patients with preliminary diagnosis of seasonal affective disorder (winter depression) according to DSM-IV criteria.
Results. After the five-year follow-up, pure seasonal affective disorder was still found in 24 patients (47%) whereas 15 patients (27%) had shown no sign of affective disorder for at least two years and 9 patients (17%) still had affective disorders, usually more intense, but no longer seasonal and 5 patients (9%) were diagnosed with personality disorders.
Conclusions. Five years after the initial diagnosis the seasonal pattern of affective disorders, meeting DSM-IV criteria, persisted in 47% ofpatients whereas 27"%o ofpatients demonstrated relatively stable remission. As far as basic demographic variables are concerned, the patients with a persistent seasonal pattern did not differ significantly from patients in whom a change ofpattern had been observed.