Early onset depression: the relevance of anxiety

  • G. Parker
  • K. Wilhelm
  • A. Asghari
Original Paper


The aim of this study was to determine risk factors that may differentiate early onset from late onset depression. A non-clinical cohort that had been assessed from 1978 to 1993 at 5 yearly intervals and that had a high prevalence rate of lifetime depression took part in the study. We established an appropriate age cut-off to distinguish early onset (i.e. before 26 years) of major and of minor depression, and examined the relevance of a number of possible determinants of early onset depression assessed over the life of the study. Despite several dimensional measures of depression, self-esteem and personality being considered, they generally failed (when assessed early in the study) to discriminate subsequent early onset depression, with the exception of low masculinity scores being a weak predictor of major and/or minor depression. Early onset depression was strongly predicted, however, by a lifetime episode of a somewhat stronger and more consistent predictor than panic disorder, agoraphobia and minor anxiety disorders (ie social phobia, simple phobia). The possibility that anxiety may act as a key predispositional factor to early onset depression and to a greater number of depressive episodes is important in that clinical assessment and treatment of any existing anxiety disorder may be a more efficient and useful strategy than focussing primarily on the depressive disorder.


Anxiety Disorder Social Phobia Panic Disorder High Prevalence Rate Agoraphobia 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Parker
    • 1
  • K. Wilhelm
    • 2
  • A. Asghari
    • 3
  1. 1.School of PsychiatryUniversity of New South Wales, Prince of Wales HospitalSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Division of PsychiatryPrince Henry HospitalAustralia
  3. 3.Mood Disorders UnitPrince Henry HospitalAustralia

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