July 1994

Minor Depression in a Cohort of Young Adults in Israel

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry of the College of Physicians and Surgeons (Drs Skodol and Dohrenwend), Divisions of Epidemiology (Dr Schwartz) and Biostatistics (Dr Shrout) of the School of Public Health, Columbia University, and the New York State Psychiatric Institute (Drs Skodol and Dohrenwend), New York; and world Health Organization/pa American Health Organization, Washington, DC (Dr Levav). Dr Shrout is now with the Department of Psychology, New York University, New York.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1994;51(7):542-551. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1994.03950070034008

Background:  A diagnosis of minor depression was considered for DSM-IV. Mild depression is thought to be common in primary care settings and in the community, but studies of the validity of minor depression as a separate diagnostic category are few.

Methods:  Minor depression as defined by Research Diagnostic Criteria was assessed by psychiatrists using a modified Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia—Lifetime version in a cohort of 5200 young adults in Israel. Subjects with year-prevalent minor depression were compared with subjects with major depression or generalized anxiety disorder and with controls on aspects of psychopathologic condition, psychosocial functioning, help-seeking behaviors, and demographic correlates.

Results:  Symptomatically, minor depression appeared to be a mild version of major depression. Minor depression was associated with good teenage and general social functioning, but also with absence from work, separation or divorce, recent impairment in overall functioning, and help-seeking.

Conclusions:  The results lend support for including minor depression or expanding severity modifiers in future classifications to better capture the phenomenon of subthreshold depression.