Prevalence, correlates, and course of minor depression and major depression in the National Comorbidity Survey

J Affect Disord. 1997 Aug;45(1-2):19-30. doi: 10.1016/s0165-0327(97)00056-6.


Data from the National Comorbidity Survey are used to study the lifetime prevalences, correlates, course and impairments associated with minor depression (mD), major depression 5-6 symptoms (MD 5-6), and major depression with seven or more symptoms (MD 7-9) in an effort to determine whether mD is on a continuum with MD. There is a monotonic increase in average number of episodes, average length of longest episode, impairment, comorbidity, and parental history of psychiatric disorders as we go from mD to Md 5-6 to MD 7-9. In most of these cases, though, the differences between mD and MD 5-6 are no longer than the differences between MD 5-6 and MD 7-9, arguing for continuity between mD and MD. Coupled with the finding from earlier studies that subclinical depression is a significant risk factor for major depression, these results argue that minor depression is a variant of depressive disorder that should be considered seriously both as a target for preventive intervention and for treatment. The paper closes with suggestions regarding the analysis of mD subtypes in future longitudinal studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology
  • Child of Impaired Parents / statistics & numerical data
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cohort Effect
  • Comorbidity
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Cost of Illness
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Databases, Factual
  • Depression / classification
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Family Health
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sampling Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Survival Analysis
  • United States / epidemiology