Negative life events, social support and gender difference in depression: a multinational community survey with data from the ODIN study

Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2006 Jun;41(6):444-51. doi: 10.1007/s00127-006-0051-5. Epub 2006 Mar 29.


Objective: To explore if differences in negative life events, vulnerability and social support may explain the gender difference in depression.

Methods: Cross-sectional, multinational, community survey from five European countries (n = 8,787). Depression is measured by Beck Depression Inventory, whereas negative life events and social support are measured by various questionnaires.

Results: Women report slightly more negative life events than men do, mainly related to the social network, but more social support in general and in connection with reported life events. This trend is the same in all participating countries except Spain, where there is no gender difference in the reported support. In general, women are not more vulnerable to negative life events than men are. However, women with no social support, who are exposed to life events, are more vulnerable than men without support.

Conclusion: The higher rate of depression in women is not explained by gender differences in negative life events, social support or vulnerability.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Cultural Diversity*
  • Data Collection*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Support*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires