The risk of minor depression in families of probands with major depression: Sex differences and familiality

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Currently it is not clear whether minor forms of unipolar depression not matching the criteria of “major depression” should be considered as a separate diagnostic category. A controlled family study examined the familial aggregation of minor depression among probands with unipolar major depression. In the families of these probands the relative risk for minor depression was elevated by a similar magnitude to the risk for major depression. Threrefore, the diagnostic category “minor depression” would not increase diagnostic sensitivity at the expense of diagnostic specificity as far as familiality is the criterion. In agreement with recent epidemiological studies, minor depression did not reveal a similar excess prevalence in females compared with males as major depression does. The variation of the sex ratio for any subtype of unipolar depression was not associated with the familiality of this disorder.