Handedness and depression: evidence from a large population survey

Laterality. 2009 May;14(3):246-55. doi: 10.1080/13576500802362869. Epub 2008 Nov 15.


There is a considerable body of research arguing for an association between psychotic disorders and atypical brain lateralisation--where non-right-handedness is usually taken as a marker for the latter. By contrast, there has been less attention given to a possible link between handedness and affective disorders (particularly major depression) and, unlike the case of psychosis, there is no a priori reason for such a link. There are very few studies of the relationship between depression and handedness in normal populations. This paper uses a new large population survey from 12 European countries to measure the association between handedness and depression. It is found that, using three different measures, left-handers are significantly more likely to have depressive symptoms than right-handers. For example left-handers are about 5% more likely to have reported having ever experienced symptoms of depression compared to about 27% of the total sample.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Surveillance
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires