Depression is characterized by mental, emotional and executive dysfunction. Among its symptoms, sleep disturbance and anxiety are very common. The effects of depression and its treatment may have an impact on driving behaviour. In order to evaluate driving performance in depression, 13 patients and 18 healthy controls completed questionnaires and scales and were tested in a driving simulator. Driving simulator data included lateral position (LP), speed and distance from the preceding vehicle. History of collisions was associated with depression, body mass index (BMI) and next-day consequences of sleep disturbance. Aggressive driving was associated with fatigue and sleep disturbances. Concerning driving simulator data, a reduced ability to maintain constant vehicle velocity was positively correlated to BMI and insomnia. An LP towards the middle of the road was associated with anxiety. On the other hand, an LP towards the shoulder was associated with depression and next-day consequences of sleep disturbance, while a positive correlation was found between distance from the preceding vehicle and use of drugs with potential hypnotic effects; both these findings show that patients suffering from depression seem to realize the effects of certain symptoms on their driving ability and thus drive in a more defensive way than controls.
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