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August 10, 1984

Long-term Outcome of Episodes of Major Depression: Clinical and Public Health Significance

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston (Drs Keller, Klerman, and Lavori); the Department of Psychiatry, University of Iowa College of Medicine, Iowa City (Dr Coryell); the Department of Psychiatry, New York State Psychiatric Institute, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York (Dr Endicott); and the Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis (Dr Taylor).

JAMA. 1984;252(6):788-792. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350060032024

Twenty-one percent (20/97) of patients with an episode of major depressive disorder and no history of chronic minor depression who sought treatment at five university medical centers had not recovered after two years of prospective follow-up. The rate of recovery was highest in the three months after entry into the study, with a notable decrease in rate after one year. Most patients who did not recover had severe depressive symptoms throughout the two years of follow-up. Long duration of episode before entry into the study, inpatient hospitalization status at entry, intact marriage, low family income, admitting research center, and a history of nonaffective psychiatric disorders (including alcoholism) predicted a chronic course. The implications of these findings for clinicians, researchers, and public health planners are discussed.

(JAMA 1984;252:788-792)