Research explores markers of depression from childhood to adulthood

December 3, 2012, Association for Psychological Science

Although several studies have followed the course of depression throughout the lifespan, the characteristics of depression at different developmental stages haven't been clearly identified. New research published in Clinical Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, presents a unique longitudinal investigation of depression across four critical developmental periods from childhood to adulthood.

To better understand the developmental course of (MDD), Paul Rohde of the Oregon Research Institute and colleagues analyzed data collected from individuals participating in the Oregon Project.

Using these data, the researchers were able to compare and contrast the presentation of MDD across four developmental periods: childhood (5.0-12.9 years), adolescence (13.0-17.9 years), emerging adulthood (18.0-23.9 years), and adulthood (24.0-30.0 years).

Interviewers assessed participants for at each of the four time points. The participants also completed follow-up evaluations that assessed the onset and duration of all major since the previous time point.

MDD recovery was defined as 8 or more consecutive weeks of no or minor symptoms and MDD recurrence was defined as meeting full MDD criteria following recovery. Both of these definitions are in line with consensus definitions in the field.

The interviewers conducting the diagnostic assessments were carefully selected, trained, and supervised. Each one of the interviewers had a degree in a mental health discipline and had completed a 70-hour course in diagnostic interviewing.

Rohde and colleagues examined data from 816 participants who had completed the questionnaires and interviews at all four time points.

By age 30, 51% of the sample had experienced an episode of MDD. Among the participants who developed one episode of MDD, more than half (53%) had at least one recurrent MDD episode by age 30. Being female was a consistent predictor of a first incidence of MDD in all four of the developmental periods but did not significantly predict recurrence.

First incidence and recurrent episodes of MDD were lower in childhood than in adolescence, emerging adulthood, or adulthood. While MDD during childhood was infrequent, episodes that occurred in this early developmental period lasted significantly longer than those episodes that occurred in the subsequent three periods. As the researchers expected, having an episode in one developmental period was associated with a significantly increased risk of having an episode in subsequent periods.

The researchers found that rates of suicide attempts were significantly higher in adolescents than in either the emerging adult or adult periods, which had similar rates. Among the participants who had a history of MDD through age 30, about 19% had at least one suicide attempt by the fourth time point.

MDD was associated with both anxiety and substance use disorders in all four developmental periods.

The researchers note that, to their knowledge, this is the first study to examine the markers of MDD across these four developmental periods.

Rohde and colleagues argue that this study makes an important contribution to our understanding of how depression emerges and develops over time because it provides critical information about the prevalence, duration, course, patterns of co-occurrence, and longer-term consequences of across four markedly diverse developmental periods.

Explore further: Depression linked to reduced temporofrontolimbic coupling

Related Stories

Depression linked to reduced temporofrontolimbic coupling

June 6, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Patients with remitted major depressive disorder (MDD) have reduced guilt-selective temporofrontolimbic coupling between the right superior anterior temporal lobe (ATL) and subgenual cingulate cortex and adjacent ...

Researchers find new way to examine major depressive disorder in children

May 10, 2011
A landmark study by scientists at Wayne State University published in the May 6, 2011, issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, the most prestigious journal in the field, has revealed a new way to distinguish children with ...

Repeated job strain is a risk factor for depression, study finds

October 19, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—Overworked employees with little power in the workplace are at an increased risk of developing major depressive disorder (MDD), according to a new study from researchers at Queen Mary, University of London, ...

Order of psychiatric diagnoses may influence how clinicians identify symptoms

November 28, 2012
The diagnostic system used by many mental health practitioners in the United States—known as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—assumes that symptoms of two disorders that occur at the same time ...

Recommended for you

People with prosthetic arms less affected by common illusion

January 22, 2018
People with prosthetic arms or hands do not experience the "size-weight illusion" as strongly as other people, new research shows.

Intensive behavior therapy no better than conventional support in treating teenagers with antisocial behavior

January 19, 2018
Research led by UCL has found that intensive and costly multisystemic therapy is no better than conventional therapy in treating teenagers with moderate to severe antisocial behaviour.

Babies' babbling betters brains, language

January 18, 2018
Babies are adept at getting what they need - including an education. New research shows that babies organize mothers' verbal responses, which promotes more effective language instruction, and infant babbling is the key.

Inherited IQ can increase in early childhood

January 18, 2018
When it comes to intelligence, environment and education matter – more than we think.

College branding makes beer more salient to underage students

January 18, 2018
In recent years, major beer companies have tried to capitalize on the salience of students' university affiliations, unveiling marketing campaigns and products—such as "fan cans," store displays, and billboard ads—that ...

Modulating molecules: Study shows oxytocin helps the brain to modulate social signals

January 17, 2018
Between sights, sounds, smells and other senses, the brain is flooded with stimuli on a moment-to-moment basis. How can it sort through the flood of information to decide what is important and what can be relegated to the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.