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April 1975

Depression in Bereavement and DivorceRelationship to Primary Depressive Illness: A Study of 128 Subjects

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis. Dr. Briscoe is currently in private practice in Corbin, Ky, and Dr. Smith in St. Louis.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1975;32(4):439-443. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1975.01760220051006

We studied the relationships of two life events, divorce and bereavement, to psychiatric illness, specifically depression. Three independent groups of probands, divorced, bereaved, and psychiatric inpatients, all meeting the same research criteria for definite unipolar affective disease, were matched and compared.

The bereaved depressives were a distinct group when compared to the divorced and hospitalized depressives with significantly fewer prior episodes of depression and first-degree relatives with affective disorder or other psychiatric diseases. In contrast, our data did not support separating persons with depressive illness associated with divorce from those who have the same psychiatric diagnosis without any ostensibly stressful life event.