From 1987 to 1994, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) has been diagnosed using the Rosenthal or DSM-III-R criteria. No major differences between them have been found, except that the DSM-III-R criteria were more stringent and difficult to implement. Little attention has been paid to differences in the criterion of the quality of improvement in summer. This study compared two groups of winter depressives, characterized by complete or incomplete summer remission. Incomplete summer remission is associated with increased heterogeneity of the demographic and clinical profile of the disorder and a shift of this profile to that of classical depression. The data support clinical use of the DSM-IV criterion ‘full remission’ in the diagnosis of SAD.

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