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

Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2002 Mar;105(3):209-17. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0447.2002.1o102.x.


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 >or =35 lbs between age 18 and study enrollment (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 > or =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 > or =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.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Weight
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Demography*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Nuclear Family
  • Occupations
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Risk Factors
  • Sampling Studies
  • Sex Factors