Adult onset of major depressive disorder in relation to early life violent victimisation: A case-control study

Lauren A. Wise, Sally Zierler, Nancy Krieger, Bernard L. Harlow

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134 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Major depressive disorder is a significant cause of morbidity among women in the USA. Women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with major depressive disorder, yet no known risk factors can account for this sex difference. We aimed to assess violent victimisation as a risk factor for depression in women. Methods: We undertook a case-control study to assess the association between violent victimisation early in life and major depressive disorder in women. We randomly selected a population-based sample of women, aged 36-45 years, from the greater Boston area. In 1999, 236 cases and 496 controls (n=732) completed a self-administered questionnaire designed to ascertain a lifetime history of exposure to violent victimisation. Our main outcome measure was major depressive disorder, assessed by structured clinical interview for Diagnostic Statistical Manual IV (DSM-IV) criteria. Findings: 363 (50%) of 732 respondents reported experience or fear of abuse as a child or adolescent. 68 were excluded because they reported violence as an adult only. Compared with women who reported no abuse, risk of depression was increased in women who reported any abuse as a child or adolescent (relative risk 2.5, 95% CI 1.9-3.0), physical abuse only (2.4, 1.8-3.0), sexual abuse only (1.8, 1.2-2.8), and both physical and sexual abuse (3.3, 2.5-4.1). Severity of abuse had a linear dose-response relation with depression. Interpretation: Our results suggest a positive association between violent victimisation early in life and major depressive disorder in women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)881-887
Number of pages7
JournalLancet
Volume358
Issue number9285
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 15 2001

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Jenifer Allsworth, Jennifer Weuve, and Karin Michels, for their helpful comments in the preparation of this manuscript. This research was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, grants R01-MH577351 and R01-MH50013.

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