Symptoms of Depression in Patients with Chemosensory Disorders

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INTRODUCTION: Patients with chemosensory dysfunction frequently report symptoms of depression. The current study aims to clarify whether the type (smell dysfunction, taste dysfunction, and mixed smell and taste dysfunction), severity, duration, or cause of dysfunction have differential impacts on the symptoms of depression.

METHODS: 899 patients with chemosensory disorders and 62 controls were included. Following a structured interview and an otorhinolaryngological examination, subjects underwent olfactory tests (Sniffin' Sticks), gustatory tests (taste sprays) and an assessment of depressive symptoms (Beck Depression Inventory). Information on the cause and duration of disorders was also collected.

RESULTS: Patients with combined olfactory/gustatory dysfunction had higher depression scores than patients with smell dysfunction only and controls, and no significant difference was found between the smell dysfunction and controls. Anosmia patients, but not hyposmia patients, exhibited higher depression scores than controls. Among various causes of chemosensory disorders, patients from the posttraumatic group had higher depression scores than patients with other causes of chemosensory dysfunction (sinonasal, idiopathic, or postinfectious). Multiple linear regression analyses suggested that reduced olfactory function was associated with enhanced depression scores in the olfactory disorders group (B = -0.326, t = -2.294, and p = 0.02) and in all patients with chemosensory disorders (B = -0.374, t = -2.550, p = 0.017).

DISCUSSION/CONCLUSION: Simultaneously decreased input of olfaction and gustation seems to have an additive effect on the exacerbation of emotional dysfunction. Early intervention should be considered for depression symptoms in patients with mixed olfactory/gustatory dysfunction in clinical practice.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-143
Number of pages9
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021

External IDs

Scopus 85103409447



  • Depression/epidemiology, Humans, Olfaction Disorders/diagnosis, Smell, Taste, Taste Disorders/diagnosis