Instrumental assessment of balance and gait in depression: A systematic review

Martino Belvederi Murri, Federico Triolo, Alice Coni, Carlo Tacconi, Erika Nerozzi, Andrea Escelsior, Matteo Respino, Francesca Neviani, Marco Bertolotti, Klea Bertakis, Lorenzo Chiari, Stamatula Zanetidou, Mario Amore

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Psychomotor symptoms of depression are understudied despite having a severe impact on patient outcomes. This review aims to summarize the evidence on motor features of depression assessed with instrumental procedures, and examine age-related differences. We included studies investigating posture, balance and gait ascertained with instrumental measurements among individuals with depressive symptoms or disorders. Studies on subjects with specific physical illnesses were excluded. Methodological quality was assessed with the Newcastle - Ottawa Scale (NOS) and PRISMA guidelines were followed. 33 studies (13 case-control, five cross-sectional, nine longitudinal and six intervention) with overall low-medium quality were included. Different instruments were employed to assess posture (e.g. digital cameras), balance (balance, stepping platform) or gait (e.g. Six-Minute-Walking Test, instrumented walkways). Results suggest that depression in adults is associated with significant impairments of posture, balance and gait. Motor abnormalities among depressed older adults may depend on the interplay of physical diseases, cognitive impairment and mood. Very few intervention studies measured motor symptoms as outcome. Available evidence suggests, however, that antidepressant drugs and physical exercise may be beneficial for motor abnormalities. Despite the lack of high-quality studies, instrumental assessments confirm the presence and importance of motor abnormalities in depression, with potential age-related differences in their pathophysiology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number112687
JournalPsychiatry Research
StatePublished - Feb 2020


  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Gait
  • Postural stability
  • Psychomotor retardation
  • Slowing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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