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Demographic, family, and occupational characteristics associated with major depression: the Harvard study of moods and cycles

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Objective: This study assesses the extent to which women with and without major depression differ by demographic, familial, and occupational characteristics.

Method: From a community-based sample, the authors identified 332 women with and 644 women without current or past major depression based on Structured Clinical Interviews for DSM-IV. Demographic and background interviews were conducted in-person.

Results: Depressed women were more likely to have gained ≥35 lbs between age 18 and study enrolment (OR=1.6, 95% CI 1.1–2.5), experienced divorce (OR=2.0, 95% CI 1.4–2.8), or changed occupations (OR=1.5, 95% CI 1.1–2.1) compared with non-depressed women. Compared with women with no brothers, those with ≥1 brothers were less likely to have a history of depression (OR=0.8, 95% CI 0.6–1.1), whereas compared with women with no sisters, those with ≥1 sisters were more likely to have current or past depression (OR=1.4, 95% CI 1.0–1.9). These findings were not influenced by family sibship size.

Conclusion: These results illustrate demographic differences between women with and without major depression and that sibship gender rather than size may also influence risk.

Keywords: epidemiologic studies; major depression; occupation; risk factors; sibship

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: 1: The Obstetrics and Gynecology Epidemiology Center at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts, USA, 2: The Perinatal Psychiatry Clinical Research Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts, USA, 3: The Departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Harvard School of Public Health, Massachusetts, USA

Publication date: 2002-03-01

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