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

Abstract

Purpose

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

Methods

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.

Results

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.

Conclusions

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.

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Acknowledgments

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.

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Correspondence to Esme Fuller-Thomson.

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Fuller-Thomson, E., Battiston, M., Gadalla, T.M. et al. Bouncing back: remission from depression in a 12-year panel study of a representative Canadian community sample. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 49, 903–910 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-013-0814-8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-013-0814-8

Keywords

  • Survival analysis
  • CIDI-SF
  • Childhood abuse
  • Adverse childhood experiences