EVERYONE has experienced a lump in the throat when fighting back tears, but certain individuals suffer from the symptom - globus pharyngis - continuously, without any underlying physical abnormality.

Psychologists at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary decided to investigate 16 women and 9 men with the problem, comparing their personalities with those of 25 people who had established physical problems in their throats.

The globus patients were significantly more depressed than the controls: just over half had experienced significant 'life events' within two months of the onset of their symptoms, such as the death of a relative, loss of a job or birth of a baby. More members of the globus group reported that their lives were difficult.

The psychologists argue in the British Journal of Psychiatry that people who are prone to depression and experience persistent lumps in their throats may be helped by anti-depressants.