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Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is now a well-described form of depressive disorder. However, relatively little research has focused upon psychosocial factors and SAD.
To determine the association between demographic/psychosocial factors and increased reported seasonal patterns of mood disorder (seasonality) and SAD in a community sample in the UK.
A total of 1250 people, aged between 18 and 64 years, randomly selected from a primary care database were screened for SAD. Those above cut-off underwent diagnostic interview and completed several self-report questionnaires. Multivariate analysis was conducted to determine which variables were significantly associated with increased seasonality.
Four factors (having experienced more numerous negative life events, having low levels of social support, being a woman and being non-native) were predictive of higher seasonality Being a woman was predictive of being diagnosed as a case of SAD.
A new association has been identified between increased seasonality, negative life events and social support. Future research should assess the psychosocial causes or consequences of SAD while continuing to examine the biology of the condition.
This is the first report on the epidemiology of depressive disorders from the European Outcome of Depression International Network (ODIN) study.
To assess the prevalence of depressive disorders in randomly selected samples of the general population in five European countries.
The study was designed as a cross-sectional two-phase community study using the Beck Depression Inventory during Phase 1, and the Schedule for Clinical Assessment in Neuropsychiatry during Phase 2.
An analysis of the combined sample (n=8.764) gave an overall prevalence of depressive disorders of 8.56% (95% Cl 7.05–10.37). The figures were 10.05% (95% Cl 7.80–12.85) for women and 6.61% (95% Cl 4.92–8.83) for men. The centres fall into three categories: high prevalence (urban Ireland and urban UK), low prevalence (urban Spain) and medium prevalence (the remaining sites).
Depressive disorder is a highly prevalent condition in Europe. The major finding is the wide difference in the prevalence of depressive disorders found across the study sites.
There is a paucity of information concerning the prevalence and detection of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in UK populations.
To determine the prevalence, detection and current treatment of SAD within a general population sample.
The study was conducted in conjunction with the Outcomes of Depression International Network (ODIN) project, a large European study of depression. At the North Wales arm of the project, 1999 adults were randomly selected from a health authority database and screened by post for SAD with the Seasonal Patterns Assessment Questionnaire (SPAQ). Those scoring above cut-off were offered diagnostic interview, after which diagnosis of SAD according to DSM–IV criteria could be made.
The prevalence rate of SAD was calculated to be 2.4% (95% CI 1.4–1.3). The majority of identified cases had not previously received a diagnosis of SAD from their general practitioner, although over half had been diagnosed with other forms of depression and had been prescribed antidepressant medication.
Although SAD was found to be common in this general population sample it appeared to be largely underdiagnosed and/or misdiagnosed.