Sixty middle-aged urban women with a major depressive episode diagnosed in a community survey were compared with those 400 participants of the study who had no history of major depression. The study design is retrospective. The depressed women's parents had been in contact with psychiatric services twice as often as those of never depressed women. The rate of paternal alcoholism was however the same in both groups. As compared with the controls, women with major depression reported significantly more often frequent corporal punishment, poor relationship with mother, having been misunderstood by parents, and unhappy childhood.