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Largest survey on depression suggests higher prevalence in U.S., reports Mailman school

October 26, 2005 -- Findings from the largest survey ever conducted on the co-occurrence of psychiatric disorders among U.S. adults indicates a sharper picture than previously reported of major depressive disorder (MDD) in specific population groups. Results from the National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) also indicate a strong relationship of MDD to alcohol use disorders, drug disorders and other mental health conditions.

According to researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, middle age, female gender, Native American race, low income, and separation, divorce, or widowhood increase the likelihood of current or lifetime MDD. "Elevated rates of major depression in baby boomers and in Native Americans were among the most striking findings to emerge from the study," said Deborah Hasin, PhD, professor of clinical Epidemiology at the Mailman School and lead author of the paper. The latest data also indicates that Asian, Hispanic, and black race-ethnicity reduce that risk.

The NESARC involved face-to-face interviews with more than 43,000 non-institutionalized individuals aged 18 years and older and questions that reflect diagnostic criteria established by the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Findings conclude that five percent of U.S. adults experienced MDD during the 12 months preceding the survey and 13 percent experienced MDD at any time during their lives. Notable is that the highest lifetime risk was among middle-aged adults, a shift from the younger adult population shown to be at highest risk by surveys conducted during the 1980s and 1990s. "This marks an important transformation in the distribution of MDD in the general population and specific risk for baby-boomers aged 45 to 64 years," remarked Dr. Hasin.

Risk for the onset of MDD increases sharply between age 12 and age 16 and more gradually up to the early
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Contact: Stephanie Berger
sb2247@columbia.edu
212-305-4372
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
26-Oct-2005


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