Depression is a common but poorly recognized disorder in primary care. Knowing risk factors related to depression can help doctors in diagnosing and treating depressive patients.
A random sample of 1643 individuals, aged 18 to 64, attending community health centres in Central Finland, took part in an inquiry with an instrument (the DEPS) measuring their depressiveness.
Negative life events, poor physical health, poor marital or other interpersonal relationships, spouse's poor health, poor socio-economic and work situation and problems with alcohol were the major variables explaining the variance of depressive symptoms both in regression and discriminant analyses.
In the primary care patients, negative life events, poor physical health, poor marital or other interpersonal relationships, spouse's poor health, poor socio-economic and work situation and problems with alcohol indicate high risk for depression; they also often accumulate in the same patients. The connection between risk factors and depression is stronger in males than in females.
The assessment of depression is based on the self-fulfilled scale and cannot, therefore, be directly generalized to clinical depression. Because of the cross-sectional study design, it is not possible to make any causal conclusion between risk factors and depression.
By paying attention to the most general risk factors of depression, general practitioners can become more sensitive in their recognition of depression.