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Recurrent brief depressive disorder reinvestigated: a community sample of adolescents and young adults

  • L. PEZAWAS (a1), H.-U. WITTCHEN (a1), H. PFISTER (a1), J. ANGST (a1), R. LIEB (a1) and S. KASPER (a1)...


Background. This article presents prospective lower bound estimations of findings on prevalence, incidence, clinical correlates, severity markers, co-morbidity and course stability of threshold and subthreshold recurrent brief depressive disorder (RBD) and other mood disorders in a community sample of 3021 adolescents.

Method. Data were collected at baseline (age 14–17) and at two follow-up interviews within an observation period of 42 months. Diagnostic assessment was based on the Munich Composite International Diagnostic Interview (M-CIDI).

Results. Our data suggest that RBD is a prevalent (2·6%) clinical condition among depressive disorders (21·3%) being at least as prevalent as dysthymia (2·3%) in young adults over lifetime. Furthermore, RBD is associated with significant clinical impairment sharing many features with major depressive disorder (MDD). Suicide attempts were reported in 7·8% of RBD patients, which was similar to MDD (11·9%). However, other features, like gender distribution or co-morbidity patterns, differ essentially from MDD. Furthermore, the lifetime co-occurrence of MDD and RBD or combined depression represents a severe psychiatric condition.

Conclusions. This study provides further independent support for RBD as a clinically significant syndrome that could not be significantly explained as a prodrome or residual of major affective disorders.


Corresponding author

Dr Lukas Pezawas, Clinical Brain Disorders Branch (CBDB), National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), National Institutes of Health (NIH), 10 Center Drive 4S235, Bethesda, MD 20892-1379, USA.


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