The Zurich study

XIV. Epidemiology of seasonal depression
  • Werner Wicki
  • Jules Angst
  • Kathleen R. Merikangas
Original Articles

DOI: 10.1007/BF02195980

Cite this article as:
Wicki, W., Angst, J. & Merikangas, K.R. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Nuerosci (1992) 241: 301. doi:10.1007/BF02195980


In a longitudinal cohort study of young adults from the Canton of Zurich in Switzerland (Zurich Study), seasonal patterns of several psychiatric and psychosomatic syndromes were investigated in two interviews over a period of three years. At an age of 27–28 years, 23% of the depressives, 15% of the neurasthenic subjects, and 14% of the subjects with backache reported an increased susceptibility in autumn and/or winter. With respect to the course we found that 10.4% of the subjects of the longitudinal sample (n=417) suffered from seasonal depression (including individuals with subsyndromal seasonal difficulties) overtwo consecutive years. Specific symptoms, such as hypersomnia, increase of appetite or weight gain, were not found to be consistently associated with seasonal depression. A comparison of actual and retrospective reports on seasonal depression resulted in a very low reliability. In view of these results the seasonal subtype of depression should be diagnosed with caution, except when the diagnosis is based on longitudinal observations and/or external sources of information (e.g. family members, partner).

Key words

Seasonal depressionEpidemiologySpecific symptomsCourseRetrospective reliability

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Werner Wicki
    • 1
  • Jules Angst
    • 2
  • Kathleen R. Merikangas
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland
  2. 2.Research DepartmentPsychiatric University HospitalZurichSwitzerland
  3. 3.Department of Psychiatry, Genetic Epidemiology Research UnitYale University School of MedicineNew HavenUSA