Sensory profiles in unipolar and bipolar affective disorders: Possible predictors of response to antidepressant medications? A prospective follow-up study

Batya Engel-Yeger, Boaz Bloch, Xenia Gonda, Giovanna Canepa, Maurizio Pompili, Leo Sher, Zoltan Rihmer, Mario Amore, Gianluca Serafini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Sensory processing patterns have been proposed as a stable dimension able to characterize individuals with major affective disorders, but to what extent specific impairments in sensory processing may be involved in the pathophysiology of these conditions is poorly understood. We aimed to explore which sensory profiles may better respond to psychoactive medications, with particular regard to antidepressants, according to depression, alexithymia, and hopelessness levels. Methods: A total of 402 outpatients who received maintenance treatment and were in stable psychopathological conditions were recruited and completed the Adolescent/Adult Sensory Profile (AASP), Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20), second version of the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II), and Beck Hopelessness Scale (BHS) according to a longitudinal prospective study design including three time points of measurements. Results: Subjects with abnormally reduced sensory seeking, hypersensitivity, enhanced sensory avoidance, and lower ability to register information better responded to antidepressant medications according to their reduced depression levels. Similarly, participants with lower registration better responded to antidepressants as reported by lower hopelessness levels. Regression analyses revealed that the use of antidepressants was the first variable able to predict depression, hopelessness, and alexithymia levels at baseline, and after three and six months of treatment, respectively, but the pattern of sensory sensitivity contribute to the prediction of depression and hopelessness. This pattern together with low registration predicted changes in alexithymia levels. Limitations: The study was limited by the modest sample size at the follow-up assessment points. Discussion: Exploring sensory processing patterns may provide intriguing insights into specific illness characteristics and treatment response.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-246
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
StatePublished - Nov 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Xenia Gonda is recipient of the Janos Bolyai Research Fellowship of the Hungarian Academy of Science.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018


  • Alexithymia
  • Antidepressant response
  • Depression
  • Hopelessness
  • Sensory processing patterns

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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