Can physical symptoms in depression be a consequence of low energy production rates? A report in the March issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics introduces a new hypothesis regarding the mechanisms of physical symptoms in depression: it states that energy production rates toward the lower end of the spectrum may predispose the individuals to develop depression and its physical symptoms.

The Authors hypothesized that decreased ATP production rates in mitochondria underlie depressive disorder with very high levels of somatization. They assessed muscle mitochondria in depressed patients as well as somatic symptomatology with 3 self reported scales (Somatic Anxiety, Muscular and Psychasthenia) from the Karolinska Scales of Personality.

At the end of the study, on each of the 3 Karolinska Scales of Personality, virtually every patient with very high levels of somatic symptomatology demonstrated muscle ATP production rates below the control range in the scales.

These results demonstrate that mitochondrial function correlates very strongly with self-reported data related to somatic symptoms in depressed patients.

The authors say this introduces the possibility that substances such as creatine, coenzyme Q10 and riboflavin may be of help in depression.

Citation: Gardner, A., Boles, R.G., Mitochondrial Energy Depletion in Depression with Somatization, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 2008;77(2):127-9. Epub 2008 Jan 25.