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.