Bouncing back: remission from depression in a 12-year panel study of a representative Canadian community sample

  • Esme Fuller-Thomson
  • Marla Battiston
  • Tahany M. Gadalla
  • Sarah Brennenstuhl
Original Paper



This study sought to investigate time to remission from depression in a community-based sample of adults followed for 12 years.


Data were derived from the National Population Health Survey (1994/5–2006/7 and 1996/7–2008/9). Fully 1,128 adults were included who were depressed at baseline according to DSM-III/CIDI-SF criteria. Kaplan–Meier and Cox proportional hazards procedures were used to determine time to remission and the demographic (e.g., gender and marital status), psychosocial (e.g., social support and adverse childhood experience) and health-related (e.g., pain, health conditions and alcohol use) factors with which it is associated.


More than three quarters of the sample (77 %) no longer screened positive for depression at 2 years, and nearly the entire sample (94 %) had remitted by 12 years. Adverse childhood experiences (i.e., childhood abuse and parental additions), lack of social support, the presence of pain and health conditions (i.e., migraines, arthritis and back pain) each predicted more time to remission. The only factor associated with time to remission in the multivariate analysis was a history of childhood physical abuse.


Most community members with depression get better after 2 years and nearly all will have remitted, at least once, by 12 years. The results of this study may help guide the development of interventions for chronic depression that focus on early prevention of childhood abuse.


Survival analysis CIDI-SF Childhood abuse Adverse childhood experiences 



The first author (Esme Fuller-Thomson) would like to gratefully acknowledge support received from the Sandra Rotman Endowed Chair in Social Work. We wish to thank Statistics Canada and the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada for permission to access the longitudinal form of the National Population Health Survey via the Research Data Center (RDC) at the University of Toronto. We are also grateful to the staff at the Toronto RDC for their help in accessing the data. The opinions expressed herein are our own and do not represent the views of Statistics Canada.

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Esme Fuller-Thomson
    • 1
  • Marla Battiston
    • 1
  • Tahany M. Gadalla
    • 1
  • Sarah Brennenstuhl
    • 2
  1. 1.Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social WorkUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Dalla Lana School of Public HealthUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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