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Clinical and Research News
Growing Depression Risk Faces Baby Boomers
Psychiatric News
Volume 40 Number 21 page 20-20

According to the National Comorbidity Survey conducted in the 1990s, young adults used to have the largest lifetime risk of major depression. Now it is middle-aged adults, suggests a new study on the prevalence of major depression among Americans.

Lead author Deborah Hasin, Ph.D., a professor of clinical public health at Columbia University, published the results in the October Archives of General Psychiatry.

Although the reason for this finding is not certain, Hasin said in an interview, she suspects that it may reflect depressed baby boomers moving into middle age—"the same age cohort reflecting their increased risk as they march through the decades." She also added that she was not surprised by the finding, although she "found it very intriguing and important."

Hasin's new study, in fact, appears to be the largest American study conducted on the subject of major depression. It was based on the 2001-2002 National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcoholism and Related Conditions, which conducted face-to-face interviews with some 43,000 Americans aged 18 and older from all 50 states. The interview format used to generate diagnoses was the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism's Alcohol Use Disorder and Associated Disabilities Interview Schedule—DSM-IV Version.

In contrast, the three previous studies that provided information about major depression prevalence—the Epidemiologic Catchment Area study, National Comorbidity Survey, and National Comorbidity Survey-R—interviewed only 19,000, 5,900, and 5,600 Americans, respectively.

This new study also yields other potentially valuable findings regarding the prevalence of major depression:

The study was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

An abstract of "Epidemiology of Major Depressive Disorder" is posted at<http://archpsyc.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/62/10/1097>.

Arch Gen Psychiatry2005621097

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