Life stress and family history for depression: The moderating role of past depressive episodes.

Department of Psychology, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN, USA. Electronic address: .
Journal of Psychiatric Research (Impact Factor: 4.09). 11/2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2013.11.005
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Three of the most consistently reported and powerful predictors of depression are a recent major life event, a positive family history for depression, and a personal history of past depressive episodes. Little research, however, has evaluated the inter-relations among these predictors in depressed samples. Such information is descriptively valuable and potentially etiologically informative. In the present article we summarize the existing literature and test four predictions in a sample of 62 clinically depressed individuals: (1) participants who experienced a major life event prior to onset would be less likely than participants who did not experience a major life event to have a positive family history for depression; (2) participants with a recent major life event would have fewer lifetime episodes of depression than would participants without; (3) participants with a positive family history for depression would have more lifetime episodes of depression than would participants with a negative family history for depression; and (4) we would obtain a 3-way interaction in which participants with a positive family history and without a major life event would have the most lifetime episodes, whereas participants with a negative family history and a major life event would have the fewest lifetime episodes. The first three predictions were confirmed, and the fourth prediction partially confirmed. These novel findings begin to elucidate the complex relations among these three prominent risk factors for depression, and point to avenues of research that may help illuminate the origins of depressive episodes.

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Jun 4, 2014