Depressive Disorders: Risk Factors

Women are affected about twice as likely as men and have a younger average age of onset (cf. Marcus 2005). The reason for this is unknown.

About half of all patients report a family history of affective disorders. The positive family history appears to be correlated with an earlier age of onset, a longer duration of disease, an increased risk for the occurrence of generalized anxiety disorder, and of suicide attempts. The remission rate does not differ from those with no positive family history (cf. Hussain 2009, Nierenberg 2007, Zisook 2007).

Patients with subclinical hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) have a significantly increased lifetime risk (50%) for developing a depressive disorder.