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May 1980

Life Events and Depressive Disorder ReviewedI. Events as Predisposing Factors

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, the University of Texas Medical School at Houston.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1980;37(5):529-535. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1980.01780180043004

• I reviewed studies examining the hypothesis that life events that occur during childhood or early adolescence may predispose a person to a depression in adulthood. Of studies that compared the incidence of childhood bereavement or other childhood loss events among depressed patients and controls, the majority found an increased incidence among the depressives. Although discrepant negative findings exist, it seems that the childhood loss of a parent by death generally increases depressive risk by a factor of about 2 or 3. In addition, early loss events also seem to be related to the severity of subsequent depression and to attempted suicide. Despite this significant association between childhood loss events and depression, most depressives have not experienced an early loss event, and clearly other causal factors are operative as well.